Of all the jobs where you might want health insurance, firefighting near certainly ranks near the top of the list. Firefighters spend two-week shifts working 18 hour days in dangerous conditions. Some develop breathing problems due to smoke inhalation.This is the status quo Republicans have been fighting for for the past two years. If the Affordable Care Act survives the Supreme Court Republican five tomorrow, it could help. Many of the firefighters make little enough to qualify for the subsidies to purchase insurance, making the premiums in reach. They'd also be guaranteed access to affordable health insurance, something that can be a problem for people in high-risk jobs.
But many federal firefighters are temporary employees, who only work six months out of the year. [...] Under federal regulations, temporary employees of the Forest Service do not receive benefits. That means no health care and no retirement pension.
“A lot of them are not making a lot,” says Bill Dougan, president of the National Federal of Federal Employees. “The only way they can afford insurance is if they have a spouse that might be able to get coverage under an employer. In some places that’s not an option.”
If the Supreme Court five make the ACA go away tomorrow, nothing changes for these wildfire fighters in the immediate term, but they'll be denied those near-future benefits and the hope that they could continue to do this critical job and protect themselves a little bit. Their hopes go up in smoke, and Republicans will cheer.
1:41 PM PT:Please sign this petition demanding that Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid introduce legislation to make these and other wildfire fighters eligible for federal health insurance.