Toomey Fights to Exempt First Responders from Obamacare

Member Group : U.S. Senator Pat Toomey

United States Congress
For Immediate Release
February 9, 2015 Contact:
Steve Kelly (Toomey) 717-782-3951
Rachel Cohen (Warner) 202-228-6884

Toomey, Warner Continue Effort to Ensure Volunteer First Responders are Exempt from ObamaCare

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) are spearheading a bipartisan effort to ensure volunteer firefighters and first responders can continue protecting communities that rely on them.

The senators are introducing a bill which codifies IRS regulations prohibiting volunteer emergency responders from being counted as full-time equivalent employees for the purpose of determining the employer mandate.

"From small cities to rural communities, Pennsylvania has the largest number of volunteer fire departments in the country," said Sen. Toomey. "These dedicated men and women, who volunteer to risk their lives for their fellow citizens, have enough on their plate without having to worry about whether excessive Washington red tape will close their station. The House has already passed this bill and I urge the Senate to do the same."

"The Obama Administration has already agreed that volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel should not be counted as full-time employees under the Affordable Care Act," said Sen. Warner. "This sensible, bipartisan fix will ensure that the law permanently and properly distinguishes between full-time, paid emergency responders and volunteers so that emergency response agencies can continue focusing on keeping our communities safe."

In December 2013, following a similar effort spearheaded by Sen. Toomey and Sen. Warner, the IRS issued guidance stating that volunteer firefighters and emergency responders would not be counted as full-time employees under the president’s health care law. However, absent Sen. Toomey and Sen. Warner’s legislation, the IRS could still reverse course.

Approximately 750,000 volunteer firefighters serve in 20,000 all-volunteer and 5,000 combination career-volunteer fire departments throughout the United States. In most cases, volunteer first responders maintain other full-time employment and choose to volunteer. Not surprisingly, emergency response agencies which rely almost entirely on volunteer assistance do not have the resources to provide benefits.

Sen. Toomey and Sen. Warner’s legislation has been co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of senators including:

Sens. Manchin (D-W. Va.), King (I-Maine), Portman (R-Ohio), Cotton (R-Ark.), Coons (D-Del.), Donnelly (D-Ind.), Murkowski (R-Alaska), Grassley (R-Iowa), Ayotte (R-N.H.) , Kaine (D-Va.), Flake (R-Ariz), Bennet (D-Colo.), Wicker (R-Miss.), Isakson (R-Ga.), Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Tester (D-Mont.), Murphy (D-Conn.), Merkley (D-Ore.), Moran (R-Kan.), Scott (R-S.C.), and Franken (D-Minn.)

Steve Kelly
Press Secretary
U.S. Senator Pat Toomey
228 Walnut St.- Suite 1104
Harrisburg, PA 17101
Phone: 717-782-3951
Cell: 717-480-2806