General Question

jca's avatar

Is it true that Obamacare will force many volunteer firehouses to close?

Asked by jca (28686 points ) December 11th, 2013

I saw something yesterday on FB that due to Obamacare, many volunteer firehouses will be forced to close.

This is the first time I’m hearing it. I am guessing it’s some misinterpretation but I can’t imagine what it could be due to.

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27 Answers

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

I have no answer to this question. I have heard nothing. I am with you that it must be a misinterpretation. I am looking forward to learning what other jellies have to say regarding this. I am GQing this because if it is a legitimate concern, I think we all should be made aware ASAP.

hearkat's avatar

“Volunteer” organizations are not employers, so I don’t see the relationship between them and any health insurance plans. I live in a state where all towns’ fire departments are volunteer – only the bigger cities have a paid force – and I have not heard any mention of the Affordable Care Act leading too problems.

zenvelo's avatar

What would health insurance have to do with volunteer firefighters? That is patently false.

It is another rightwing scare that volunteers are “employees” (they are not) and would have to be covered. If you look online, there are dozens of rightwing scare blogs that have picked up on this. But it is a false concern.

rojo's avatar

I believe it has to do with the IRS making noises that it considers volunteer firefighters to be employees, not volunteers and to answer @zenvelo ‘s question, since the IRS is implementing the ACA then the ACA is responsible.

rojo's avatar

BTW Obamacare also causes warts, herpes, toe-jam, head-cheese, sunspots and, if I am not mistaken, it is also responsible for my garbage disposal breaking down. It was working fine before they opened up the healthcare website and now phfffft, nothing, not even a hum.

JLeslie's avatar

Doesn’t sound right to me. How can we trust anything at this point? I’m so sick of people wanting to hate and make up stuff. Even if this is true, how do we sift through so many lies?

snowberry's avatar

Doesn’t sound like scare tactics to me. It’s a legitimate concern, and depends on whether the IRS considers volunteer firefighters as employees or not.
http://www.iafc.org/Media/PressReleaseDetail.cfm?ItemNumber=7106thanks-to-obama-care/#ixzz2nAkrwkFs

zenvelo's avatar

@rojo The IRS is not implementing the Affordable Care Act; Dept of Health and Human Services is. The IRS is implementing the tax for non-compliant individuals. Much different.

Of course it doesn’t sound right @JLeslie, because it is a lie.

snowberry's avatar

“The uncertainty surrounding the Shared Responsibility Provision is compounded for fire departments due to conflicting federal guidance on whether a volunteer firefighter or emergency medical provider is an employee of their fire department. While the Department of Labor classified most volunteers as non-employees, the IRS is responsible for enforcing the Shared Responsibility Provision and considers all volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel to be employees of their fire department.”

and “The IAFC Offers Solutions for Volunteers:

In its comments, the IAFC has requested that the IRS final rule contain the following applications for volunteer responders…”

JLeslie's avatar

By “right” I meant doesn’t ring true, bullshit, made up rumor…

snowberry's avatar

So the firefighters made this all up? Interesting point of view there @JLeslie.

JLeslie's avatar

@snowberry I realized after the fact that the sentence could be interpreted two ways. Right could mean doesn’t seem fair, or doesn’t ring true in my sentence. I think people from the northeast would interpret it the way I intended, but not necessarily around the country and world, so I clarifed. I’m not sure why you used the word interesting to describe my point of view? I feel like you found what I said offensive. I wasn’t aiming my answer at you in any way. I saw @zenvelo answer to me, and that is when I realized my sentence might have been unclear.

JLeslie's avatar

So they only care about firefighters? Or, the bill will cover all volunteer positions?

DWW25921's avatar

In my town there are 2 volunteer fire departments. One of them is for the town itself and the other for the outlying area. The 2 are very close together and the spot I set up for my flea market is right smack between them. Anyway, I haven’t heard anything like this from them. I would doubt it.

GoldieAV16's avatar

1. This provision has already been delayed by PBO until Jan 2015.

2. Is there some reason that firefighters should NOT be offered health insurance from their employer, if they work 30+ hours a week for them??

JLeslie's avatar

@GoldieAV16 Are you saying you agree with forcing employers to offer healthcare insurance to their volunteers? I am not sure if I am interpeting what you wrote correctly. I hate that employers are forced to offer employees health insurance, let alne volunteers being part of equation. I am not even sure companies are forced to offer healthcare, I guess they are? I guess there are laws about it? Previously, I always thought it was just company policy whether they offered it or not, but over the years I guess some of it has become law even before Obamacare.

GoldieAV16's avatar

I agree with the concept behind the ACA – that every person should be insured. If an agency relies on “volunteers” and is compensating them through providing training and gear, and that “volunteer” works at least 30 hours a week for that agency, and that agency employs over 50 people, yes, I think that health insurance should be a benefit offered to that “volunteer” by their employer.

Or we could just let the private market sort it out. You know, let the citizens pay for the kind of fire protection we want. <—tongue in cheek

JLeslie's avatar

@GoldieAV16 I agree with everyone being able to be insured. I hope ACA is making it easier for people to be insured even if unemployed, self employed, or part time. Attaching it to employers still makes us slaves to employers and leaves the choosing of what plans are offered to the employers, and believe me there is sometimes some good ol’ boy bullshit in some of the selection of what insurance company your employer chooses. The person in charge of benefits or the CEO plays golf with the sales representative from Blue Cross and all of a sudden your company offers Blue Cross.

GoldieAV16's avatar

Meh, that’s unchanged by this law. It was a concession to leave the business in the hands of the private market insurance business, and of course they are in bed with their customers, just as BigPharma and BigMedicalDevices are in bed with doctors and providers (their customers).

The law was not meant to address that corruption aspect, and it doesn’t. It does, however, allow businesses to shop on an exchange and compare packages, and maybe get a better deal for their employees.

I’m not a huge fan of the ACA, don’t get me wrong. I am a fan of single payer. I’m one of those who dislike the law because it did not go far enough, not because it goes too far. That said, I still think it is preferable to what we had, which was the least efficient and most costly emergency room health “insurance” for too many, and those costs being passed on to the rest of us via increased and inflated costs on our bills – either being paid by us or by our insurance companies, and passed on to us in the form of higher premiums.

JLeslie's avatar

@GoldieAV16 We are in general agreement. I don’t want to derail too much by discussing healthcare and all it’s facets.

jerv's avatar

Well, businesses are still in existence, so the expenses of ACA didn’t crush them into oblivion. The prices I pay at the stores have increased far less than the 20–500000% that it was claimed would be required to fund this policy.

I would bet good money that this is just the latest crock of shit from “Fuck the non-rich!) party.

rojo's avatar

@zenvelo my mistake, I should have said enforcing, not implementing.

ETpro's avatar

Here’s the most unbiased coverage of the situation I could find. Everything else was from World Nut Daily, Faux News and the other usual suspects.

So basically, the RWNJs have two big complaints with Obamacare. It’s far too much paperwork to even read, and it doesn’t go into enough detail on rare occurrences like Volunteer Fire Departments with over 50 firefighters each working 30 hours a week or more.

It’s a complex, overdue change, and there’s going to be some unforeseen consequences. We could fix them, except the party of No will say No, leave the country to twist in the win so maybe we can score political points.

Judi's avatar

I think that unless the firemen volunteer more than 20 (or is it 30) hours they wouldn’t have to be insured even IF they were paid employees.
My hubby is a volunteer fireman and he goes down for training one night a week and on a call once or twice a month. I can’t imagine a volunteer fireman putting in full time hours.

Darth_Algar's avatar

My grandfather was a volunteer firefighter for 50 years and I know he never came anywhere close to 30 hours a week. Honestly, considering that volunteer firefighters are volunteer I doubt many of them could afford 30 hours a week of unpaid labor. And 50 firefighters? I think my grandfather’s department might have had around 10 at the most at any particular point.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

Some departments are like that, but I believe, and I could be wrong, that in some regions where there is a full and dangerous fire season, full time fire departments also have volunteer support to meet the extra demand during the season. In the Sierra Nevada, I do know they use prison volunteers during fire season, resulting in some gaining a sense of worth for the first time in their lives. Also, upon leaving prison, a valuable skill has been learned which can give these volunteers employment opportunities.

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