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Clarification for volunteer firefighter healthcare coverage

Clarification for volunteer firefighters healthcare

FALCON, Colo. - Congress is rushing to put out the fire they started.  For months fire departments have been seeking clarity whether or not the Affordable Care Act would require them to provide health care for volunteer firefighters.

"There is just absolutely no money for that, we wouldn't be able to do that," said Chief Trent Harwig of the Falcon Fire Department.

Chief Harwig says his department heavily relies on its 28 volunteer firefighters.

"In departments our size volunteers are critical," Harwig said.  "It's our way of getting our mainstream staffing levels up to a safe amount."

Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet co-sponsored a bill to clarify how volunteer firefighters and other first responders are defined in the new health care law.

The bill is called the "Protect Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act."  It amends the Affordable Care act to make it clear that volunteer emergency service workers are not required to be counted as full-time employees for purposes of healthcare coverage.

"This bill is a commonsense fix and improvement to the health care law that ensures we don't unfairly penalize these brave men and women, who often receive little compensation for their services," Senator Bennet said.

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