Hatch: Support broad for wellness-program clarification bill

A federal bill that aims to provide legal certainty for business owners offering wellness programs to employees is receiving widespread support, U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said on Thursday.

Hatch was one of several Senate and House members to introduce the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act last month. Hatch had said that the bipartisan support from Congress demonstrates a commitment to employee wellness programs and should end overreaches by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which has been accused of causing confusion for employers offering wellness programs
that lower employees’ health insurance premiums as a reward for healthy
lifestyle choices.

Brian Marcotte, president and CEO of the National Business Group on Health, said his group is a strong supporter of the bill and applauded lawmakers’ leadership.

“Your proposed legislation would clear up this confusion for employers and the employees who value these programs, and aligns the federal government’s policy to consistently support wellness programs,” Marcotte said.

James Klein, president of the American Benefits Council, said employers must encourage healthy behavior in their employees.

“To maintain global competitiveness and help achieve good health in our communities, American companies must encourage healthy behavior with every tool in our toolkit,” Klein said. “In other words, a healthy work force is a productive work force, and a productive work force makes for a healthier American economy.”