There are growing concerns that volunteer fire departments throughout the country may be the next victims of Obamacare.
“My concern is that currently the IRS classifies volunteer firefighters as employees for federal tax purposes,” U.S. Rep Lou Barletta, R-Penn., said on Fox News Monday. “This means that they could be required to provide health care or pay a fine under the Affordable Care Act if they reach 50 volunteers or not.”
The issue, according to Barletta, is that volunteers could be “grouped together” with other employees from townships or municipalities, and that would push them to or above 50 employees.
Under the Affordable Care Act, employers with 50 employees or more must provide health insurance for all.
“We all know volunteer fire departments across the country could never be able to provide health care, which I believe could potentially close fire houses across the country,” Barletta said.
In Pennsylvania, for example, “97 per cent of fire departments are fully or mostly staffed by volunteers. That’s the highest percentage in the U.S,” The Daily Mail reported.
“Nationally, the Federal Emergency Management Agency reports that volunteer fire departments make up 71 per cent of America’s 1 million firehouses,” the report continued. “Another 16 per cent are ‘mostly volunteer.’”
Barletta added that he has been waiting “for clarification” from the IRS since the summer, but to date, the IRS will only say the policy is “under review.”
Additionally, U.S. Rep. Chris Collins predicted the IRS rule would “produce a public safety diasater,” according to the Mail.
Watch Barletta here: