CEOs lobby for PPACA wellness programNews added by Benefits Pro on May 9, 2013
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By Allen Greenberg

One of the nation’s leading business organizations is pressing President Obama to ensure incentives for job-sponsored wellness programs remain part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

In a May 2 letter to the president, Gary W. Loveman, the chairman of the Health and Retirement Committee of the Business Roundtable, wrote that his group is “deeply concerned” that a rule on incentives for wellness programs in group health plans “may not continue to permit employers to enhance wellness benefits by providing incentives to employees.”

The Office of Management and Budget is now considering what the policy should be.

Loveman, who is the CEO of Caesars Entertainment Corp., said his fellow CEOs are hoping to see “participation and contingent-based programs that encourage improvement in our employees’ health,” noting, “It is about better health care for our workers if they engage.”

He said enacting the rules on wellness programs is the “No. 1 Affordable Care Act implementation issue today for Business Roundtable members.”

The CEOS in the Business Roundtable collectively employ nearly 16 million people and provide health care coverage to nearly 40 million beneficiaries.

Maria Ghazal, the organization’s VP of health and wellness and its general counsel, said the group is most concerned about the possibility the government will make whatever rule it embraces weak and difficult to administer.

“We don’t want the parameters to be so restrictive. … If you set (wellness) goals but people can just back out at any time, we’d be concerned,” she said.

Wellness programs typically tie financial incentives to weight loss or reducing blood sugar.

As the mounting cost of health insurance continues to strain budgets, both employers and policy makers are increasingly turning to wellness programs as a way to help bring them under control.

Proponents say wellness programs can save employers as much as $7 for every $1 spent, as well as deliver higher employee morale, reduced absenteeism and increased productivity and retention.

In his letter, Loveman talked about how well the wellness program at Caesars has worked.

“We have seen wellness program participants, on average, lower their blood pressure by 7 points, reduce total cholesterol by 11 points, and improve their cholesterol ratio by 9 points over a three-year period,” he wrote the president. “These are stunning results that make a real difference in people’s lives. And they are not unique to Caesars. Many of my colleagues are seeing similar results.”

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com
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