Colo. firefighters may buy U.S. healthcare

July 10, 2012 at 7:43 PM

WASHINGTON, July 10 (UPI) -- President Obama will direct U.S. officials to let seasonal firefighters buy federal health insurance coverage, administration officials told The Denver Post.

The newspaper reported Tuesday the White House directive came after the president's June visit to Colorado Springs, where he toured wildfire-ravaged areas and met firefighters who are hired on a seasonal basis, but are not full-time employees of the U.S. Forest Service and are therefore not able to purchase federal insurance.

Citing senior administration officials, the Post said the Office of Personnel Management will issue a directive in the "near future" that will allow temporary Forest Service firefighters the option of purchasing federal health insurance by the end of July.

About 15,000 seasonal workers -- usually younger people, many of them college students -- perform various Forest Service jobs, including tree removal in the fall or working at ski areas in the winter, the Post said.

It was not clear Tuesday how eligibility for purchasing federal healthcare coverage will be determined, the report said.

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., introduced legislation in Congress Tuesday to make federal health insurance available for firefighters and their families, the newspaper said.

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