Fitzpatrick Continues Push for ACA Clarification

Jan 2, 2014 Issues: Congressional Issues, Health
Fitzpatrick Continues Push for ACA Clarification

LANGHORNE, PA – Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8) Thursday penned a letter (below) to recently-confirmed Internal Revenue Commissioner John Koskinen asking for clarification about the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act’s (PPACA) possible effects on volunteer fire departments and emergency responders.

“Currently, volunteers are designated as employees for IRS tax purposes. Under this designation, many volunteer-driven non-profits could be considered ‘large employers’ by the PPACA,” highlighted Fitzpatrick in the letter. “This misguided classification has the potential to significantly harm volunteer emergency services across the country by requiring them to meet the law’s employer mandates.”

Prior to his confirmation, Koskinen promised a Senate panel he would move quickly resolve the issue once in office. So far, a resolution has not been provided- prompting the letter.

Late last year, Fitzpatrick voiced these concerns to the former head of the agency, later drawing attention to the unanswered request for explanation.

“I wrote Acting Commissioner Werfel asking for clarification, but failed to receive a response (below),” wrote Fitzpatrick. “In lieu of waiting for an answer, I joined other like-minded lawmakers in introducing legislation into the House which would fully exempt our volunteer non-profits from the potential crushing regulations.”

Fitzpatrick is cosponsor of the Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act [H.R. 3685] which was introduced into the House December 11. The bill is supported by the National Volunteer Fire Council and the International Association of Fire Chiefs. A similar, bipartisan measure has also been introduced in the Senate.

"Local governments and volunteer fire/EMS agencies highlight everything that's right about our great nation - community members committed to the protection and well-being of their families, friends and neighbors. I applaud Congressman Fitzpatrick for working to ensure that these selfless volunteers aren't unfairly penalized by the overreaching bureaucracy of groups within the federal government,” said David M. Sanko, Executive Director of the PA State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS) of the legislation. “The IRS must provide clear guidance on exemptions for volunteers from this potentially costly unintended consequence of the ACA. This legislation from Congressman Fitzpatrick and others in the House does that in a commonsense, no-frills way."

“I cannot stress enough the significant role volunteer emergency services play in my community, and communities across the country. With over 90% of the nation’s fire departments staffed by volunteers, it is imperative we work together to assist them – not get in their way,” Fitzpatrick concluded his letter. “My hope is that you will clarify this ruling, or assist legislation which would, so the vital services performed by our volunteer first responders will not be inhibited.”

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Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick is serving his third term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He represents Pennsylvania’s 8th district which includes all of Bucks County as well as a portion of Montgomery County. He serves as the Vice Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.