EEOC Issues Proposed Wellness Rules

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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today that it will publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on April 20 that addresses how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to employee wellness programs. To read the EEOC’s proposed rules in full, click here.

As past Mueller QAAS blog posts have detailed, the EEOC has been at odds with some employers about how incentives can be used to persuade employees to participate in wellness programs. Last ...

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Combating Mental Health Stigma

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Even though it is estimated that nearly one in five adults in the U.S. will experience a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year, there remains significant stigma around this type of health condition. In fact, a 2014 survey of employers by the Disability Management Employer Coalition found that stigma surrounding mental and behavioral health issues in the workplace has never been higher. In 2012, 7% of employer respondents believed stigma surrounding mental health disorders was ...

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EEOC Encouraged to Clarify Wellness Rules

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During a U.S. Senate meeting January 29, 2015, Senators chastised the EEOC for its unclear and inconsistent actions recently taken on employer-sponsored wellness programs.  This year, the EEOC has filed suit against Honeywell, Orion Energy Systems, and Flambeau Inc., claiming violations of the ADA and GINA.  This conflicts with messages from the Government and within the Affordable Care Act that allow employers new freedom to design wellness programs to improve employee health.

Testimony from employers and disability organizations expressed their concerns. ...

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EEOC Wellness Lawsuits Highlight Tension Between ACA, ADA

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Between August and October 2014, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed three lawsuits against employers in Minnesota and Wisconsin over their workplace wellness programs. The EEOC claims that the programs violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), while the employers argue that their practices are specifically authorized by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Employers and HR professionals are watching the cases closely because workplace wellness programs are increasingly common, and the rules surrounding them are unclear. A 2014 Mercer ...

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Large Employers Team Up to Support Wellness

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Some of the largest employers in the United States have partnered on an initiative to reduce healthcare costs and urge other companies to adopt wellness programs.  Members of this coalition include Verizon, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, and Johnson & Johnson.  These large companies provide employer-sponsored health insurance for as many as 150 million people.

The recommendations from these employers, titled ” Building Better Health: Innovative Strategies from America’s Business Leaders” emphasize health screenings, weight and nutrition counseling, chronic disease management, and ...

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Wisconsin Company Sued by EEOC for Wellness Violations

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The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently filed a lawsuit against Manitowoc, WI based Orion Energy Systems Inc.for instituting a wellness program that violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The suit claims that Orion asked health plan enrollees to participate in a medical examination as part of its wellness program.  An employee that refused to participate in the wellness program was required to pay 100% of the premium for health insurance and was eventually terminated for objecting to ...

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Tobacco Use Surcharges

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In 2014, a health insurer can impose a tobacco use surcharge of up to 50% on consumers in the individual and small group markets.  This surcharge can be applied to insurance plans sold in the private market and on the public exchange.  The surcharge can be applied to any individual that used a tobacco product an average of four or more times per week within no longer than the past 6 months.  If a consumer begins using tobacco after purchasing ...

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Legalization of Marijuana and the ACA

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Recreational marijuana became legal in Colorado in 2014, and legalization in Washington is not far behind. Legalization of recreational marijuana coincides with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed in 2010. In January 2014, during an interview with the New Yorker President Obama stated his support for legalization because of the disparate impact on minorities for minor drug crimes.  “It was important to let [legalization of recreational marijuana use] go forward because it’s important for society not to ...

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New WI Law Gives Wellness Grants to Small Employers

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The Healthy Jobs Act sailed through the Wisconsin legislature in March to provide grants to small employers to offset up to 30% of their annual wellness program expenses.  Employers with 50 or less full-time employees will be eligible for a portion of this $3 million a year grant program to be administered by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

To be eligible for the grant, the wellness program must provide a health risk assessment, biometric screening, and one or more of ...

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