Officials with the state Fireman’s Association are asking that volunteer fire departments and rescue squads be exempt from the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act.

Currently Obamacare includes language that requires volunteer fire departments in the state with greater than 50 employees that average more than 30 hours a week to provide healthcare coverage to their members.

Tom Miller with the state Fireman’s Association, who is also part of the legislative committee, said if this mandate goes into effect, a large number of VFDs will be negatively impacted.

“We’ve predicted that it could impact as many as 30 fire departments in the state and certainly the state can’t afford to lose 30 VFDs,” he said.

Senator Joe Manchin has introduced a bill on the U.S. Senate side that would exempt the VFDs from the mandate and a similar bill has also been introduced on the U.S. House side as well.

Miller said there seems to be support for the exemption in both the House and Senate sides but another issue has come up that could be a major roadblock.

“There’s been so many exemptions granted that the IRS is reluctant to grant additional exemptions,” he said.

The mandate would impact departments that are either individually by itself or those that are part of the municipality that it serves. This would include VFDs in New Martinsville, Shinnston and Stonewood to name a few.

Miller said VFDs normally set up their budgets a year in advance and many are currently trying to plan ahead and decide how to survive with the mandate.

“Some have talked about dismissing volunteers so they can get below the 50 number,” he explains. “Some have talked about curtailing services so they drop their services hours below 30 hours a week.”

Currently over 90 percent of the Mountain State is protected by more than 416 VFDs with 10,000 active volunteers.

Miller said regardless of what the departments do, the impacts are not going to be positive. He said something needs to be done and done very soon.

“I guess we are kind of tired of being an over-site,” he said. “Someone need to look at the impact of these kind of decisions on how it’s going to affect the day to day emergency response in communities.”

The mandate would officially go into effect in January 2015.

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  • DWL

    ROFLMFAO!!!!!!!! Who was it that elected the liberals that voted for Ocrap-care? The (d)'s! Who suffers? The little people who voted for these leftist idiots like Carpetbagger Jay, No Show Joe, and that other idiot from Beckley - Rahall. Plus fools like cousin Earl Ray and his minions. Suffer you fools - Suffer! The whole house of cards shall fall.

  • WVcoal

    Why is there no discussion about the impending budget deal that will royally screw thousands of WV war veterans and retirees. "Is the choice between keeping the government open and screwing all the military retirees? Is that that right choice?"
    I'm sure Manchin doesn't give a darn.

  • GregG

    Ok, would someone please clear this up for me? If it is a "volunteer" fire department, why is the term "employees" being used? And what does "hours" have to do with it? Are these "volunteers" getting paid?

    • zero tolerance

      Apparently the interpretation of the ACA dictates that a person who volunteers for more than 30 hours in a week are then to be considered an employee thus mandated to receive heath care coverage from the Volunteer Fire Department and they are not paid.

      In related news, elevators are now being installed in outhouses................

      • DWL

        It's called Ocrap-Care! Don't you love the way they try and rename it when it turns to CRAP!

  • Aaron

    This is just another example of what passing a bill without knowing what is in the bill will get you.

    2700 pages of language was put in place by a select few bill writers and was then fostered upon the American people by a Congress that was either too stupid or too naive to read the bill and get a firm grasp on what it actually said.

    Had they, I'm sure a few Democrats would have used the common sense God gave them and realized that the American Care Act is a bad bill.

  • Damion45

    I've got an idea. Let's just exempt the American people all together.

    • Rambling Wreck


  • Jonus Grumby

    This is what Obama wanted, let the chips fall where they may.

  • WhgFeeling

    I believe it all part of a greater scheme. More people to have to rely on the government and a possible single payer. It all plays right into their great plan of power. More people rely on the government the more power the goverment ultimatley has.

    • GregG

      And who controls our Government? BIG BUSINESS.

    • Undertheradar

      And the Government is owned by Corporate America. That's why the insurance industry made sure that everyone was "required" to have insurance through a few companies owned by a few people. No one discusses or takes action for CONTROLLING COSTS!

    • Jonus Grumby

      You are not alone on that. I have the same thought.

  • David

    They knew this was coming, and failed to adequately prepare. If that's the way they work to prepare to respond to emergencies, perhaps they should re-think their volunteer activity focus.
    And what are volunteer fire departments doing with more than 30 paid employees, anyway?

    • Tom wv

      David... Volunteer departments didn't know this was coming. But somebody in the goverment knew and didn't say a thing until obama care was passed. You shouldn't be ticked off at volunteer department... You should be asking question to your goverment officials as to why these things where not addressed when the law was formed.

    • zero tolerance

      So David what do you in support of your community?

    • Damion45

      What part of VOLUNTEER don't you understand?

    • Joe

      Totally out of line comment David.

      Bet you will appreciate them if your home has a fire emergency. I'd far more rather exempt VFDs from obamacare then pay for tatoo coveted chain smoking snap card using people who have absolutely no appreciation for all the free entitlements on the backs of hardworking tax paying citizens.

      Grow up.

  • Polly the Pundit

    Another example of how poorly thought out the Affordable Care Act was. The same rules that apply to volunteer fire departments would also apply to other community volunteer and/or quasi volunteer organizations that may cross the, "employee" threshhold(s) established in the ACA, e.g. a church that runs a large daycare, Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc. When you start adding the administrative cost(s) of providing health insurance to employees, overhead will skyrocket and these agencies will have to cut back on services. Keep in mind, it doesn't matter if the "employee" is eligible for or has insurance elsewhere, it still has to be offered and/or provided by the employer.

  • Joe

    The terrible irony is that these brave volunteers put their lives on the line in many cases to put out fires started in hud housing operating meth labs or other illegal activity. You know, tne people the firemen and the rest of us are paying for to have free healthcare.