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I was really shocked last week to find out that these wildfire firefighters were uninsured contract workers, so I'm very happy that they will now have health insurance, thanks to the intervention of President Obama. It's astounding that it wasn't offered before. Via the Denver Post:
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has directed federal officials to offer seasonal firefighters the option of purchasing federal health insurance coverage, White House officials told The Denver Post Tuesday.
On a a recent trip to Colorado Springs, the president was apparently moved by the men and women firefighters he met, senior administration officials said in an interview.
When he returned to Washington, he told his cabinet that he wanted to "find a solution" for the hundreds of workers toiling in dangerous conditions without the option to buy in to federal insurance insurance.
The 15,000 or so temporary seasonal workers who descend into fire zones are usually young people who work sundry outdoor jobs, depending on the time of year. Some pick up contract work removing trees in the fall or they work at ski areas in the winter. Many are college students.
But because they are not full-time U.S. Forest Service employees, before Tuesday's announcement they did not have the option of purchasing federal health insurance.
Under a directive that will be made in the "near future" from the Office of Personnel Management, this group will get that option by the end of this month, White House officials said.