House Democrats Call for Changes in Wellness Program Regs

Whether by coincidence or persuasion, the news is good that leading House Democrats are calling for some of the same changes to employer wellness regulations as leading obesity policy advocates sought in comments submitted last week. The Hill reports that the request came in a letter from top Democrats on all three House committees with authority over healthcare, as the top Democrats on each panel’s health subcommittee.

Echoing concerns from obesity advocates, the legislators said they support incentives for healthy behaviors, but not incentives for specific health outcomes, such as blood pressure or weight. Health-based incentives directly contradict one of the major goals of the Affordable Care Act, protecting consumers from discrimination against pre-existing health conditions.

The legislators stated that “employer wellness programs can help provide the tools necessary for greater individual responsibility over one’s health and improve health outcomes … Unfortunately, they may also lead to undesired results such as undermining the risk pooling in group health plans, or making group coverage harder to access for older and sicker individuals.”

This is remarkable because “The Safeway Amendment” which put outcome based wellness incentives into the Affordable Care Act enjoyed wide bipartisan support just a few years ago. And ever since then, advocates for people with obesity have been working hard to prevent the harm they could cause.

Click here to read more in The Hill.

The Hill Masthead is a trademark of Capitol Hill Publishing Corp.