Seasonal firefighters win federal health benefits

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Associated Press

Posted on July 17, 2012 at 11:33 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 17 at 11:34 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says about 8,000 temporary firefighters and their families will get access to federal health insurance following a petition drive bolstered by this year's historic fire season in the West.

President Barack Obama says the nation has been inspired by the heroism of firefighters battling deadly wildfires this summer. Obama says he has directed his administration to ensure the firefighters "can count on the care and protection they need."

The temporary firefighters weren't covered by federal health insurance because under federal rules, temporary seasonal employees can't buy into federal insurance plans.

Members of a South Dakota-based hotshot crew who fought wildfires this year launched a petition drive seeking the health benefits and gathered more than 125,000 signatures.

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