June 26, 2015
Last week, a coalition of seventeen Republican legislators submitted comments to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, urging the agency to align its proposed rules on workplace wellness programs "with both current law and the bipartisan intent of Congress" in order not to create confusion for employers looking to offer these programs. Senate HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander, who led the effort, remarked, "Congress was clear in its support of workplace wellness programs in the health care law—just about the only provision in the law with bipartisan support. The Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury were clear in their regulations implementing the law. Unfortunately, the EEOC continues to cause confusion for employers who want to offer these programs that reward employees for making healthy lifestyle choices." The comments requested that the EEOC make changes to seven significant areas before finalization of the proposed rule, including the cap on premium reward for wellness programs; the cap on premium reward for tobacco cessation; the definition of "reward;" employee-only coverage; the affordability standard; the Americans with Disabilities Act's safe harbor provision for insurance plans; and the final rule's effective date. The lawmakers' comments come on the heels of comments submitted by the Association similarly requesting that the EEOC clarify aspects of the proposed rules.