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09 January 2014

ObamaCare May Create Headaches for Georgia's Volunteer Firefighters

The Associated Press reports today that the Affordable Care Act, more popularly known as ObamaCare, may create headaches for volunteer firefighters across the nation, including quite a few in Georgia.

In an article titled "Health law leaves volunteer firefighting in limbo", the AP details "an ambiguity in President Barack Obama's health care law."

. . . [firefighter] volunteers are considered employees for tax purposes, a classification that grew out of an ongoing effort to attract firefighters by offering them such incentives as stipends, retirement benefits and free gym memberships.

That leaves open the question of whether the volunteer firefighters fall under the health care law's requirement that employers with 50 or more employees working at least 30 hours a week must provide health insurance for them. Fire departments say they can't afford to pay such a cost.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, Georgia has 461 registered fire departments, of which 52% are volunteer and 25.1% are mostly volunteer.

"Most of these are operating on a shoestring budget - holding pancake dinners to raise money to put enough gas in the truck so they can respond to the next fire, the next medical call," Dave Finger, director of government relations for the National Volunteer Fire Council, told the Associated Press.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) jumped on this unintended consequence of ObamaCare, saying Democrat U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn puts ObamaCare above all.

"ObamaCare has been a disaster, and now volunteer firefighters and the communities that rely on them are the latest victims of this terrible law that Michelle Nunn stands by," said NRSC Press Secretary Brook Hougesen. "Seventy-seven percent of Georgia's fire departments are volunteer, and it is unfair and unfortunate that those firefighters and the communities they protect are the latest ObamaCare victims."