Employers might begin drawing back on using wellness programs if they don't get clarifying regulations on the treatment of financial incentives under the Americans with Disabilities Act from the EEOC, witnesses said at a Senate committee hearing.
Both Republican and Democrats spoke in favor of wellness programs at the Jan. 29 hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, but said that recent actions by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against employers that use financial incentives in their programs may hinder their further growth, because employers that comply with the Affordable Care Act's provisions on these incentives could find themselves out of compliance with the ADA.
The EEOC's attempt to block Honeywell International Inc.'s implementation of the company's wellness program sent a “confusing message” to employers, said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the HELP committee.
Alexander also promised that if the EEOC doesn't issue proposed regulations soon, “I will work on legislation to provide clarity to the general counsel of the EEOC that employers and employees can continue to offer these voluntary wellness programs and encourage healthy lifestyle choices.”
The EEOC has a target month of February for issuing proposed rules (RIN 3046-AB01) addressing how the ADA and Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act affect employer-sponsored wellness programs, according to the agency's semiannual regulatory agenda.
Excerpted from a story that ran in Pension & Benefits Daily (01/29/2015).
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