POLITICAL ECONOMY

EEOC Holds Remote Public Meeting On Wellness NPRM

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By Emmanuel Oluebube, Correspondent UK

The EEOC has held a remote meeting to consider a proposed rulemaking addressing what level of incentives employers may lawfully offer to encourage employee participation in wellness programmes that require disclosure of medical information, without violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The Commission voted 2-1 to approve the proposed rulemaking, as amended.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) was drafted in response to a decision by the US District Court for the District of Columbia that vacated a portion of EEOC’s previous ADA regulation on the matter. Although HIPAA, as amended by the Affordable Care Act, allows employers to offer incentives up to 30 per cent of the total cost of health insurance to encourage participation in certain types of wellness programmes, the ADA requires that employee participation in a wellness programme that includes medical questions and exams be voluntary. In the absence of any ADA statutory definition of “voluntary,” the NPRM proposes that for most wellness programmes employers may offer no more than a de minimis incentive to encourage participation, and must meet other requirements, to comply with the ADA. Certain wellness programmes, however, will be permitted to offer the maximum allowed incentive under the 2013 HIPAA regulations.

The vote to approve the NPRM means it will now to go the Office of Management and Budget for review. If approved, the NPRM will be published and the public will have an opportunity to submit comments on the proposed rule.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.

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