Exemption For Volunteer Firefighters Under New Health Care Regulations

(AP & WXXI News) — Treasury Department officials say volunteer firefighters won't require coverage under the federal health care law.

Fire chiefs were worried their volunteers would be considered employees under the health care law requiring that employers with 50 or more employees working at least 30 hours a week must provide health insurance for them.

Volunteer firefighters have been considered employees for tax purposes because they're often offered such incentives as stipends, retirement benefits and gym memberships.  

But the Treasury Department said in a blog post Friday that volunteer firefighters and other emergency responders won't be considered employees in its final regulations.

On Friday, two local Representatives, Louise Slaughter and Chris Collins, said the U.S. Treasury sent a letter to them letting them know that the volunteer firefighters would not require coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Dave Finger, director of government relations of the National Volunteer Fire Council, says departments are pleased with the decision and will pay close attention to the final regulations for any further issues.