The promised coverage by President Obama has now gone into effect.
Seasonal firefighters who are officially considered to be temporary federal employees are now eligible to receive health insurance following a coverage campaign that brought rapid results from the president.
It was a matter of days before the promise was made, and days again for the implementation to occur.
These firefighters can now take part in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program in the same way as full-time federal workers. This includes the ability to receive family coverage from the plan. Throughout the time that they are employed – which is a seasonal occurrence that usually spans over 6 months – they will receive the government contribution of approximately 70 percent of the total premium.
The health insurance campaign pointed out that seasonal firefighters often work a year’s worth of hours.
Most temporary federal workers do not qualify for FEHBP health insurance coverage unless the work for twelve consecutive months. However, an exception has been made to the rules in this case. President Obama took into account the important of the work accomplished by the firefighters, as well as the hazards associated with battling the fires.
The majority of federal firefighters work only on a seasonal basis because the fires often occur only at certain times of the year. Typically speaking, they did not work an adequate number of hours for health insurance coverage under the previous regulations. The new rules now state that there is no minimum number of hours which need to be worked in order to qualify.
Though the campaign itself began in April 2012 with a petition, the President took a personal interest in the situation when he visited Colorado recently, due to the wildfires that were plaguing the state. It was very shortly after that time that the announcement was made that the regulations would be changed, and not a week passed before the changes were implemented.
The director of the Office of Personnel Management, John Berry, explained that “Issuing this interim final regulation meets President Obama’s direction to ensure that the brave men and women who compose our nation’s federal firefighter ranks, and who are currently fighting dangerous wildfires in states across the country, are eligible for the same health insurance available to other federal employees, retirees and their families.”