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News & Press: Government Affairs News

Federal Judge Halts Wellness Program Rule

Wednesday, August 23, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Bradley Coffey, MA, AAOE Government Affairs
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Washington, DC - A federal judge for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia has sent a proposed rule on employee wellness plans back to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Judge John Bates ruled that the agency failed to justify its 30% cap on cost incentives for participating workers. The incentive cap requires that any incentive to join a wellness plan cannot be greater than 30% of the total cost for self-only coverage of the insurance plan in which the employee is enrolled.

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) challenged the rule in October 2016, arguing that the rule would allow employers to illegally access private health information and use that data in a discriminatory way. While this is a win for the AARP, the judge did not vacate the rule as the AARP had requested. Instead, the agency will be required to go through additional notice and comment rule-making to provide clearer definitions of the voluntary nature of these programs.

The ruling does not affect wellness programs that are contingent on achieving certain health outcomes. That 30% limit is governed by HIPAA regulations and not the EEOC.

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