March 24, 2015
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Employer sponsorship of wellness programs depends on continued congressional support
Council testifies before House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, voices support for Chairman Kline's H.R. 1189
WASHINGTON, DC "Public policy, at the legislative and regulatory level, should continue to support bipartisan efforts to expand workplace wellness programs," Tamara M. Simon, Managing Director of the Knowledge Resource Center and Career Practice at Buck Consultants, a Xerox Company, told the Workforce Protections Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Education and the Workforce Committee today.
Simon, testifying on behalf of the American Benefits Council, applauded the introduction of the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act (H.R. 1189), introduced by Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and cosponsored by Workforce Protections Subcommittee Chairman Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN).
"The prospect of a healthier workforce has compelled a growing number of companies to develop and implement wellness strategies. However, existing federal guidance from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is not clear regarding what constitutes a voluntary wellness program," Simon said. "The Council believes that H.R. 1189 strikes the right balance between providing certainty to employers and ensuring an appropriate role for the EEOC to protect employees from discrimination," Simon said.
The Council previously expressed its support for H.R. 1189 in a March 6 letter delivered to all House offices.
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.
"Wellness strategies hold enormous promise for improving employee well-being, increasing productivity and lowering long-term health costs," Spangler said. "If we are to achieve these goals, we must first have sensible and consistent federal rules."
As Simon concluded, "employer-sponsored benefit plans are now being designed with the express purpose of giving each worker the opportunity to achieve personal health and financial well-being. This well-being drives employee performance and productivity, which drives successful organizations. The employer community appreciates the Committee's recognition of the importance of wellness programs to that equation."
Simon's testimony is available on the 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.