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House, Senate Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Volunteer Emergency Responders

Dec 11, 2013

U.S. House Representative Lou Barletta (R-PA) and Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) worked together to introduce bipartisan legislation (H.R. 3685/S. 1798) to exempt emergency response agencies from a requirement to offer health insurance to their volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel. If enacted, the Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act would make clear that fire and EMS agencies will not be required to offer volunteer personnel health insurance, even if they receive other nominal benefits.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) considers volunteers who receive nominal benefits to be common law employees of the agencies that they serve. The PPACA requires large employers to provide full-time employees with health insurance coverage. Because it falls to the IRS to enforce the PPACA mandate that employers provide health insurance, many fire and EMS departments could end up facing penalties starting in 2015 if they do not offer health insurance benefits to their volunteers.

Co-sponsors of S. 1798 include Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Patrick Toomey (R-PA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Angus King (I-ME), and Mark Begich (D-AK).

H.R. 3685 is co-sponsored by Representatives Patrick Meehan (R-PA), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Jon Runyan (R-NJ), Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Scott Perry (R-PA), Glenn Thompson (R-PA), Leonard Lance (R-NJ), David P. Joyce (R-OH), Mike Simpson (R-ID), Jim Renacci (R-OH), Jim Gerlach (R-PA), Bill Huizenga (R-MI), Michael Grimm (R-NY), Austin Scott (R-GA), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Richard Hanna (R-NY), David McKinley (R-WV), Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Stephen Fincher (R-TN), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Bill Shuster (R-PA), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Joe Pitts (R-NY), Chris Collins (R-NY), Spencer Bachus (R-AL), Walter Jones (R-NC), Andy Barr (R-KY), Kristi Noem (R-SD), Candice S. Miller (R-MI), Tom Marino (R-PA), John Shimkus (R-IL), Keith Rothfus (R-PA), Todd Young (R-IN), and Lynn Jenkins (R-KS).