The real story

I would like to comment on a recent front page story, “Reform law a hurdle for volunteer firefighting”.

On my first reading my thoughts were “how could they possibly think volunteer firefighters should be covered under the ACA? This is outrageous, what were they (the Democrats that wrote the bill) thinking? After rereading it a few times I realized this was exactly the response the reporter wanted us to have.

“Volunteer firefighter and EMS companies will be forced to provide health insurance or pay a fine. “Or “when he (Thomas Scheach) calculated the mandate’s cost, he found it would cost about $605,000 a year for insurance”, and “This will virtually put them out of business, and we can’t have them go out of business,” Everett said.”

Statements like this should bring us all out with pitchforks and torches. We should stand behind Mr Scheach when he states “The folks in Washington need to get off their duff … We’re on top of this – they need to be on top of this.”

The only problem here is, well, these factually stated proclamations are anything but factual. Whether or not volunteer fireman are covered under the ACA was never addressed last year in the proposed rules, as were many such situations. Do we think maybe this sort of thing was one of the reasons the administration pushed back implementation of the law?

When Heather Schafer, executive director of the National Volunteer Fire Council, directed a letter to the acting IRS commissioner urging him to “clearly exempt volunteers from being considered employees, the Treasury released a statement Dec 17 stating, “We received a number of comments concerning volunteer firefighters and other volunteers in response to proposed regulations issued last December. We are taking those comments into account as we work toward issuing final regulations on the employer responsibility provision, 4980H of the Internal Revenue Code.

So now we have on Dec.10 Rep. Barletta introducing HR3685 and Sen Warner introducing bill S1798, both making the firefighters exempt from the ACA and both receiving bipartisan support.

Until the IRS goes against the will of the people and the House and Senate, I don’t think there is much of a story here.

Orvis Shull


Submitted by Virtual Newsroom

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Sun-Gazette reporters are instructed to ask pertinent questions on issues and transmit the answers they are given. They have no inclination to make readers interpret those words a certain way. It is up to readers to draw their own conclusions from news stories.)