The President is offering federal coverage for those employees who are risking their lives for others.
In response to a petition and a request from seasonal firefighters for federal health insurance coverage, President Barack Obama has given his approval to provide these temporary workers with access to the medical plans.
The loophole that formerly denied some federal employees this health insurance has now been closed.
The President has acknowledged that these firefighters risk their lives to save people and their homes and belongings from fire, and that in return they should have access to a plan that will allow them to protect themselves and their families against financial ruin should they become ill at any point throughout the year.
The reason that many have not been able to qualify for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) is that they are often restricted to working 1,039 hours or fewer, within a period of under six months, making them part-time employees from an official standpoint. Part-time employees are not eligible for FEHBP coverage.
In June, during his trip to Colorado, President Obama met with the firefighters who were battling one of the wildfires in that state. Now, Obama’s administration intends to put an interim regulation into place that will allow these same individuals to buy into the federal health insurance program in the same way as other federal employees.
According to the Office of Personnel Management director, John Berry, when Obama had returned from his Colorado visit, he gave the office a directive to solve the issue that was denying the firefighters access to FEHBP. Berry stated that:
“Federal firefighters are putting their lives at risk every day across the country.”
In 2010, the Federal Diary rule 1039 changed the way that the program was offered, making it look as though the government was trying to weasel its way out of offering firefighters the health insurance coverage they need to fight disease and illness that were not contracted while on the job. This problem was exacerbated by the fact that these firefighters often put in enough overtime that they will often work almost a full year’s worth of hours in half the time.
Finally, this loophole has been eliminated and the firefighters have gained their federal health insurance acces.