Groups Voice Concerns About Proposed Rule for Workplace Wellness
Business executives and lawmakers have raised concerns about a proposed rule -- under review by the Office of Management and Budget -- for workplace wellness programs under the Affordable Care Act, The Hill's "RegWatch" reports (Hattem, "RegWatch," The Hill, 5/23).
In December 2012, HHS and the departments of Labor and Treasury proposed a rule that allows employers to award employees as much as 30% of the cost of health coverage for participating in wellness programs, an increase from the current 20%.Â Meanwhile, workers who enroll in smoking cessation programs could earn back as much as 50% of their coverage costs, HHS said. The rule also requires employer-based wellness programs to provide individuals with special medical conditions with alternative ways to qualify for rewards.
Concerns With Rule
Business groups have raised concerns that some parts of the rule could be overly burdensome. Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health, in a letter said she worried that "certain provision[s] of the proposed regulations will impede innovation and increase administrative and cost burdens for wellness programs, with little to no benefit to participants."
Meanwhile, House Democrats have expressed concern that the rules could unfairly discriminate against individuals based on their health status ("RegWatch," The Hill, 5/23).
White House Official Clarifies Employer Mandate
In related news, White House health official Jeanne Lambrew on Thursday met with Democratic senators to discuss concerns about the effects of the ACA's employer mandate, CQ HealthBeat reports.
According to Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), the meeting's main takeaway was that only about 3% of small businesses will have to comply with the employer mandate and provide coverage to employees. She added about half of those businesses already offer benefits to employees, while the remaining companies must provide affordable coverage options to their employees or pay a penalty. However, Landrieu noted, "All those businesses will get some subsidies to provide health care that are fairly generous for their employees."When asked about the Obama administration's role in educating the public about the law, Landrieu said she does not think the White House has done enough to dispel the "myths and hysteria" that have risen since the bill was first proposed. She said the members of the caucus asked Lambrew to increase outreach efforts (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 5/23). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.