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News Jan 14, 2014 - 9:28:20 AM

Esty, Larson, Courtney applaud decision on volunteer first responders under the ACA

By Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty's office

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Washington, DC - On Monday, Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, Congressman John B. Larson, and Congressman Joe Courtney applauded the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service’s decision not to count the volunteer hours of volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel when determining an employer’s full-time employees under the Affordable Care Act. The decision confirms that the employer shared responsibility requirement does not apply to volunteer departments.

"I’m pleased that the Obama Administration listened to the concerns I heard from volunteer firefighters throughout my district," said Congresswoman Esty. "The clarifications just published by the IRS will help the Affordable Care Act work better for our fire departments and, ultimately, make sure that the departments have the capacity to recruit and retain volunteer firefighters, which is critical to keeping our communities safe."

“Today’s decision is welcome news for the thousands of departments and volunteers working to keep our communities safe,” said Congressman Larson. “When the volunteer first responder community, including one of our local fire chiefs, brought this issue to my attention, I knew an explanation was needed to ensure our departments have the resources they need. This decision could not have come at a better time as the demand for volunteer first responders steadily increases in Connecticut and across the nation. I applaud Commissioner Koskinen, the Department of Treasury and the IRS for their timely response and look forward to continuing my efforts for our brave volunteer first responders.”

“I am pleased that the Obama Administration has responded favorably to our request to ensure that Connecticut’s volunteer fire departments are not improperly classified under the Affordable Care Act,” Congressman Courtney said. “I am proud to have collaborated with Congressman Larson to raise this issue directly with the White House over the last few weeks after many conversations with eastern Connecticut fire chiefs about their concerns. I am committed to working pragmatically to solve issues such as this one when they arise during implementation of the ACA, to ensure that the law works as intended to expand access to affordable, quality health care for Americans.”

Today’s decision follows a call for guidance from various departments, concerned that the “volunteer” status of many first responders may not be applied to the ACA employer shared responsibility requirement due to certain nominal compensation or service award programs. Yesterday, January 9th, Representatives Larson and Courtney led the Connecticut Delegation in a letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen calling for the clarification. See attached for the full letter and today’s response from the U.S. Department of Treasury.

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