Dear Members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce,
The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) is pleased to support the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act (H.R. 1313), and urges members to vote yes when then bill is considered by the Committee. This legislation will untangle conflicting, burdensome, and unnecessary rules that are currently jeopardizing the ability of employers to offer quality wellness programs, and the opportunity for employees to earn significant savings on their health insurance premiums while also improving their health.
ERIC is the only national association that advocates exclusively for large employers on health, retirement, and compensation public policies at the federal, state, and local levels. We advocate for policies that empower employers to offer quality benefits to working families, and help control the costs of health insurance and health care services. The continuing advancement of wellness programs has been a step in the right direction, empowering employees not only to use employer-provided tools and information to improve their health, but incentivizing them to do so by offering meaningful reductions in the premiums they pay for health insurance.
Employers invested serious time and effort in complying with the original regulations governing wellness programs under the ACA, promulgated by the tri-agencies. However, when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a new, conflicting, and more onerous and restrictive regulation governing these same programs, it caused confusion and litigation liability. Now employers are struggling to comply with the law and are threatened with fines and lawsuits, just for attempting to do the right thing and help employees improve their health and save money. This legislation would return to the ACA’s original regulatory regime for employee wellness programs, ending that confusion and once more applying reasonable rules to the offering of these benefits.
ERIC recognizes the importance of protecting patient privacy, preventing discrimination in employment and benefits, and ensuring that wellness programs are not subterfuge to shift costs to vulnerable populations. However, we believe the original tri-agency rule accomplished these goals, while the EEOC rule’s overzealous attempt to do so punished many employers who were doing no wrong. As such, the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act is needed to restore the balance between patient protections and quality, effective wellness programs.
We thank the Committee for considering this important legislation, and urge members to support H.R. 1313.
James P. Gelfand
Senior Vice President, Health Policy