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Some Ohio Fire Departments Fear Health Care Costs

COLUMBUS (Chris Vanocur/Kate Liebers) -- The new health care law could make for some big changes at some small town Ohio fire departments.

For one example, departments would have to provide benefits for volunteer or part-time firefighters.

The possibility has concerned Scioto Township Department Chief Porter Welch.

He said most of the 30 firefighters are not full-time crew members, and that he would need at least twice what is in the current budget to pay for this service. 

"It's not that we don't want to provide health insurance to everybody," Welch said. "It's simple that we cannot afford it."

The chief said that if he has to pay for health care, the department might have to respond with staff cutbacks.

"That certainly impacts the community because that's fewer people than we could put on the street, fewer fire trucks or ambulances that can respond to emergencies," he said. "We're not here to provide service to people."

The IRS is considering exempting fire departments from the government health care requirements.

Congress might also do the same.
 
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