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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Who pays insurance on paid-per-call firefighters?

  • The Affordable Care Act poses questions for Americans who play a crucial role in our lives: Volunteer firefighters.Who pays insurance on paid-per-call firefighters?
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  • The Affordable Care Act poses questions for Americans who play a crucial role in our lives: Volunteer firefighters.
    All fire departments no matter how large or small have “volunteer” firefighters on their roster. More accurately they are paid-per-call firefighters, receiving a small amount of money for every fire to which they respond. In our area, paid-per-call firefighters make up the vast majority of the firefighting crews, with only Harrisburg and Eldorado having full-time firefighters — and Eldorado’s full-time crew consists of only one, Chief Mike McKinnies. When the Small Business Section of the Affordable Car Act goes into effect in 2015, any business with 50 or more employees who work at least 30 hours a week will be required to provide health insurance for their employees. The effect this will have on local firefighting volunteers is, at best, unclear at this point. The local fire departments have fewer than 50 workers and usually work less than 30 hours a week.
    Harrisburg Fire Chief Bill Summers says that the city is looking into the matter.
    “At this point, we just don't know what is going to happen. We just don't know,” Summers said.
    Carrier Mills fire Chief Jerry Choat stated that the situation is unclear for his department as well.
    “Most of our firefighters have insurance through their jobs, but the specific firefighters insurance is not affected yet,” Choat said.
    Galatia Mayor David Harrawood says that, as of now, the city expects no changes.
    “We don't think it will affect us. It would destroy us financially if we had to provide health insurance for our firefighters,” Harrawood said.
    Local insurance providers generally state that the entire act is in a state of flux, fine tuning and legal challenges and it is difficult to make accurate forecasts as to what will be required when all sections of the act are in effect. Since none of the local fire departments meet the requirements for the Small Business Section of the act, there may be no disruption or difficulties for area paid-per-call firefighters.
     
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