Thousands of volunteer fire departments across the nation could be forced to shut down because they cannot afford the high costs of Obamacare.
Due to Obamacare requirements, fire departments must provide health insurance for volunteers working more than 30 hours a week.
“Without our volunteers, we would be nothing. Our volunteers are here 24/7 and they are willing to risk their life and drop whatever they are doing to come help,” Lancaster County Fire Marshall Stephen Blackwelder, who oversees 19 stations and 300 volunteers, said to WBTV.
Lancaster County Administrator Steve Willis confirmed Blackwelder’s statement, adding “If council made the decision to offer insurance, and if they took full family coverage, we would be looking at literally millions of dollars a year.”
Volunteer firefighters are vital in ensuring fire safety across the nation, the National Volunteer Fire Council reports that there are 783,300 volunteer firefighters in the US comprising 70% of firefighting force, and our nation has 20,050 volunteer departments. Willis praised the volunteers’ help, saying “we literally couldn’t do without them.”
Currently, a bill has been introduced in Congress that would exempt fire departments from providing health insurance to volunteers. Until the bill is passed, fire chiefs must wait patiently to see how the situation will be resolved.
The current law stipulates that the employer mandate must apply to fire departments that have at least 50 employees, which can include multiple fire houses within one company.