Sending Office: Honorable Lou Barletta
Sent By: Mira.Lezell@mail.house.gov
Keep Volunteer Firehouses Open
H.R. 1991, the Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act

Dear Colleague:

Were you voting on March 17, 2015?  If so, you voted for bipartisan legislation to ensure that volunteer firehouses remain open and aren’t counted as employers per the Patient and Protection Affordable Care Act Employer Mandate.  My bill passed 415-0.

Were you voting on January 12, 2015?  If so, you voted for bipartisan legislation to ensure that volunteer firehouses remain open and aren’t counted as employers per the Employer Mandate.  My bill passed 401-0.

Were you voting on March 11, 2014?  If so, you voted for bipartisan legislation to ensure that volunteer firehouses remain open and aren’t counted as employers per the Employer Mandate.  My bill passed 410-0.

My simple, bipartisan bill to protect our first responders, volunteer firefighters, and emergency services personnel from the Employer Mandate has passed the House by a combined vote total of 1,226-0.  If there’s one thing Republicans and Democrats can agree on, it’s that the Employer Mandate was never intended to apply to volunteer firefighter companies.

Unfortunately, the Senate has repeatedly used this bipartisan public safety legislation as a shell vehicle for something else.  I have again reintroduced the exact same bill text that has repeatedly passed the House, and ask that you join me again in this effort by cosponsoring H.R. 1991, the Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act.

As a former mayor, I know how important volunteer fire companies are to the health and safety of a community.  According to the National Fire Protection Association, 91 percent of fire companies use at least some volunteers and 85 percent depend on all or mostly volunteers.  That’s why the National Volunteer Fire Council, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, and the Congressional Fire Services Institute have endorsed this bill.

Forcing volunteer fire companies to comply with the Employer Mandate will not extend health insurance to the uninsured.  Rather, it would force some fire companies to pay for the volunteers’ health insurance or pay a fine, driving many volunteer fire departments out of business.  Most volunteers already receive health insurance through other means.  Even the IRS recognizes this.

During the 113th Congress, many of you helped to successfully push the IRS to issue a rule that seeks to clarify this matter.  I believe that this is too important an issue to be left to regulations, which could easily change the other way.  Our emergency service volunteers deserve rock solid certainty that this won’t happen.

If you need further information or would like to cosponsor, please contact Mira Lezell at 5-6511 ormira.lezell@mail.house.gov.  Thank you for your consideration.

Very truly yours,

Lou Barletta
Member of Congress

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Selected legislative information: HealthCare, Homeland Security, Taxes