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Firemen Insurance: A Concern

The nation’s new Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) has a provision that could put local fire departments—as well as local governments—at considerable financial risk. Firefighting departments with 50 or more members could be forced to provide health insurance for their volunteer firefighters or else pay substantial fines.

 

“It would really hurt the volunteer fire departments,” said William F. Murray, president of the Volunteer Firefighters Association of Southern New York.

 

The health care law has specific insurance requirements for employers with 50 or more employees. While the U.S. Department of Labor terms these firefighters “volunteers,” the Internal Revenue Service classifies volunteer firefighters as employees.

 

Members of Congress are aware of this issue, though so far, no changes have been made at the federal level.

 

“Volunteer firefighters provide an invaluable service to our communities and save lives. We need to make sure policies aren’t put in place that would be detrimental to fire departments on Long Island and across the nation,” said Rep. Steve Israel (D. 3rd district). “I am reaching out to the IRS to make certain that they take into account the unique situation of volunteer firefighters and ensure that fire departments aren’t saddled with costs they can’t handle.”

 

Local village mayors have written to the congressman and to New York’s U.S. Senators, urging them to intervene on behalf of volunteer fire and EMS organizations and exempt them from the Affordable Care Act. 

 

Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand said that if the village is required to pay medical benefits for each member of its volunteer fire department, it would cost somewhere in the vicinity of $1.6 million a year. 

 

“It just can’t happen,” Ekstrand said. “That would be a phenominal tax increase for the people of the village.” 

 

According to Ekstrand, should the provision go into effect in Farmingdale, the village budget would wind up in excess of the state mandated tax levy cap. With the cost of insurance increasing each year, the amount taxpayers would be required to chip would also continue to rise if the provision were to take effect. 

 

Spokesmen from the Vigilant and Manhasset-Lakeville fire departments said that their volunteers are already able to receive health insurance by buying into the New York State plan, with their own personal funds, through the Town of North Hempstead. Additionally,

many volunteer firefighters have health insurance through their employers.

 

— Additional reporting by Daniel Offner


News

Philip D’Aguanno, 79, of Melville, passed away on Oct. 15. Loving husband of Maria. Devoted Father, father-in-law and grandfather. A funeral mass was held at S.t Kilian R.C. Church. Interment Holy Rood Cemetery. Funeral arrangements entrusted to the McCourt & Trudden Funeral Home, Inc.


The Citizens Campaign for the Environment, a Farmingdale-based advocacy group, recently joined state lawmakers and Massapequa water district officials for a press conference calling on New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign the proposed Navy Grumman Plume Remediation Act (A9492), which has already passed both the state Assembly and Senate, in an effort to protect Long Island’s drinking water and the Great South Bay from the Grumman-U.S. Navy underground plume of toxic chemicals. 


Sports

Nassau County ASA President Keith O’Donnell and Chief Umpire Vincent Donnelly recently presented a $2400 check to Over the Hill Gang President Jim Reilly. The donation will be added to the funds the men’s softball league raised on behalf of Sal Pugliese Jr. as the young boy battles a rare hip disorder. The OTHG would like to thank the ASA for its generous contribution to a fantastic local cause.

—Submitted by the Over the Hill Gang


Farmingdale runners Theresa Gannon, Chris Bartlett, Patty Baker and Jenine Cottone each came home with an award from the Blue Ribbon 10 kilometer and 5 kilometer runs for Prostate Cancer at Syosset-Woodbury Community Park. 


Calendar

Thanksgiving Eve - November 26

Altheas Boutique Opening - November 29

Tri-Centennial Tree Lighting - December 2


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