January 29, 2015
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Employer-sponsored wellness plans essential for achieving healthy communities, economy
Dow testifies before Senate HELP Committee
WASHINGTON, DC "National and international science and policy organizations have concluded that employers and workplaces are absolutely essential to achieving health for society," Dr. Catherine Baase, chief medical officer for The Dow Chemical Company, told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee today. Baase was also testifying on behalf of the American Benefits Council.
"To maintain global competitiveness and help to achieve health in our communities, American companies must encourage healthy behavior with every tool in our toolkit," Baase said.
Baase described how Dow has woven its health efforts into the fabric of its organization. "Since 2004 we have improved the health risk profile of our global population substantially. Dow spent $4.8 million less in 2013 U.S. health care costs than we would have spent had we experienced the industry average trend."
As outlined in the Council's recently released strategic plan, A 2020 Vision, a critical component of encouraging employers to offer meaningful wellness programs is consistent federal policy that promotes the health of Americans and is aligned across multiple agencies and Congress.
Katy Spangler, the Council's senior vice president, health policy, underscored the importance of a coordinated policy approach that supports the bipartisan provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) encouraging the adoption of employee wellness programs. "Notwithstanding employers' increasing interest in these programs, a great deal of legal uncertainty surrounds the application of both the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act to these programs," Spangler said.
As Baase told the committee, "The Council and Dow encourage Congress and/or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to work within the existing legislative and regulatory framework to provide certainty and flexibility to employers.
"A healthy workforce is a productive workforce, and a productive workforce makes for a healthier American economy," Baase said.
Baase's prepared testimony is available on the American Benefits Council website. For more information on health policy and employee wellness matters, or to arrange an interview with Katy Spangler, senior vice president, health policy, please contact Jason Hammersla, Council director of communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 202-289-6700 (office) or (202) 422-4652 (mobile).
The American Benefits Council is the national trade association for companies concerned about federal legislation and regulations affecting all aspects of the employee benefits system. The Council's members represent the entire spectrum of the private employee benefits community and either sponsor directly or administer retirement and health plans covering more than 100 million Americans.