Alexander Tells EEOC Nominees, "Encourage Better Health, Lower Costs With Clear Guidelines For Employee Wellness Programs"

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

At a confirmation hearing for two Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) nominees, Senate labor committee Chairman Lamar Alexander said the EEOC should encourage better health and lower costs with clear guidelines for employee wellness programs.

“While there are many components to the cost of health care, there is consensus that wellness and leading a heathier lifestyle reduce the need for health care and save money and lives,” he said.

 “Congress agreed when it passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010 by including a provision that allowed employers to discount health insurance premiums for healthy lifestyle choices like quitting smoking or maintaining a healthy cholesterol level. It was one of the few parts of the ACA that everybody agreed on.

"The Obama Administration sought to implement the provision through three different agencies, but the EEOC issued regulations that limited the ability of the administration to do what Congress told it to do and reduced the discount employers could give for participation in a wellness plan.

“Roughly 60 percent of insured Americans get their health insurance on the job, and one of the most straightforward ways to encourage wellness is to give those employers clear guidelines. As Commissioners, I hope you will create clear rules for employer-sponsored wellness programs.

Tuesday’s confirmation hearing in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee was to consider the nominations of Janet Dhillon and Daniel Gade, nominated to be commissioners on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and Carlos Muniz, nominated to be General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Education.

Regarding the nomination of Mr. Muniz, Senator Alexander said, "During the previous administration, I wondered sometimes if officials at the Department of Education had lost their copy of the Constitution where it says the Congress writes the laws. So I hope that, as a lawyer, Mr. Muniz, you are as glad as I am that Secretary DeVos committed to Congress in January that she would implement laws as we wrote them. And that she is doing just that." 

Ms. Dhillon has served as general counsel for three Fortune 500 companies – Burlington Stores, JC Penney, and US Airways. Dr. Gade is a veteran who served in Iraq and was wounded in action. He has become a national expert on disability policy and served in the White House Domestic Policy Council under President George W. Bush.

Mr. Muniz is currently an attorney and consultant at McGuireWoods, and previously was the Deputy Attorney General for the State of Florida.

Senator Alexander’s full prepared remarks are here.

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