April 4, 2017
In March 2017, Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) sponsored bill H.R. 1313, the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act. At first glance the bill sounds reasonable, as it encourages the development of employee wellness programs to encourage workers to make healthier lifestyle choices.
The bill asserts that such health promotion and prevention programs help to reduce chronic illness, improve health and limit expanding health care costs.1
The bill is intended to “clarify rules relating to nondiscriminatory workplace wellness programs” and gives employers legal grounds to enforce the use of their wellness programs among employees. Specifically, the bill states in Section 2(3):2
” … [E]mployers would be permitted to implement health promotion and prevention programs that provide incentives, rewards, rebates, surcharges, penalties, or other inducements related to wellness programs, including rewards of up to 50 percent off of insurance premiums for employees participating in…