Editorial Addresses Wellness Programs Legislation

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Wellness Programs Legislation

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The Tennessean on Thursday published an editorial andseveral opinion pieces about the Healthy Workforce Act of 2007. Thelegislation would provide businesses a tax credit worth 50% of costsper employee for wellness and preventive health care services.Companies would receive a tax credit of up to $200 for the first 200employees participating in a wellness program and up to $100 peremployee thereafter. To qualify for the program, businesses would haveto provide programs that meet at least three of four criteria,including events to raise awareness and screen for health risks;seminars to boost behavioral change; incentives for participants; and acommittee to oversee the wellness program (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 7/10). Summaries appear below.

Editorial

  • Tennessean:The measure is an "incentive to health and health care savings in thelong term for many Americans" that "merits serious consideration," a Tennesseaneditorial states. According to the editorial, "If approved, the billcould help turn the tide both in spiraling health care costs and inillnesses that are preventable by lifestyle," even though it could be a"hard sell, chiefly because Americans are reluctant to give up theirbad habits" (Tennessean, 9/27).

Opinion Pieces

  • Ernest Clevenger:"The development of this act is a clear indication that the governmenthas begun taking steps to address the national health care crisis byacknowledging the preventive health needs of the American populationand striving to reduce the monumental costs associated with thetreatment of chronic disorders, such as heart disease and diabetes,that have reached epidemic status" in the U.S., Clevenger, president ofCareHere, writes in a Tennesseanopinion piece. He also notes that U.S. employers are in a "uniqueposition to impact the quality of life and overall wellness of theiremployees" (Clevenger, Tennessean, 9/27).
  • Janet Rachel:The proposed legislation is an "innovative, creative and effective wayto deal with our country's health care crisis," Rachel, associate vicepresident of human resources at Meharry Medical College, writes in a Tennesseanopinion piece. She adds, "If properly implemented, the act has thepotential to positively impact current and future generations ofemployees -- who really are the fabric of our nation" (Tennessean, 9/27).
  • Henry Ross: The measure "simply makes sense," Ross, CEO of Aegis, writes in a Tennesseanopinion piece. According to Ross, wellness programs "have been offeredfor years by local health care organizations such as hospitals that arecommitted to building healthier communities," so under the proposal,small and mid-sized businesses would "have an option for importingwellness programs" (Ross, Tennessean, 9/27).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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