One of the programs of Obamacare, thankfully a minor one, were so called “Voluntary” wellness programs where employers were allowed to coerce private medical information out of their employees.
A federal judge has now struck down these programs:
A federal court on Tuesday threw out a rule allowing employers to call their workplace wellness programs “voluntary” when employees stand to lose thousands of dollars for not participating — a win for groups that challenged what they argue are coercive programs that have not been shown to improve employees’ health.
The ruling, a summary judgment for the group that challenged the federal rule, orders the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to come up with a “reasoned explanation” for deeming workplace wellness programs voluntary even if the programs impose steep penalties on workers who opt out, calling the absence of such an explanation when the EEOC issued its rule last year “a serious failing.”
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, in an opinion by Judge John Bates, allows the 2016 EEOC rules to stay in place for now, however. Immediately unwinding the penalties and incentives in workplace wellness programs, which are built into employer-based health insurance plans, would be too disruptive, he ruled, since those plans have been in effect for months.
Because the EEOC administers both ADA and GINA, it stepped in to define “voluntary” in the context of workplace wellness programs. The programs have become increasingly popular as employers seek ways to reduce their health care spending. In addition, the Affordable Care Act allows employers to offer even higher workplace-wellness incentives than had previously been permitted. Last year, the agency issued a rule saying that “use of a penalty or incentive of up to 30 percent of the cost of self-only coverage will not render ‘involuntary’ a wellness program that seeks the disclosure” of workers’ ADA- and GINA-protected medical or genetic information.”
This program typifies the problem with so many of the social welfare initiatives put forward by “centrists”.
It provides no documentable benefits, and it is predicated on a complete contempt for the agency of ordinary people, and so is both demeaning and ineffective.
This is not a surprise, as one of their goals of centrists is to provide jobs to their real base, highly credentialed professionals, or, as Lamberth Strether noted on Naked Capitalism, “Great! ObamaCare incentivizes wellness programs, but as the article points out, they have no proven health benefit (and hence, like so much of ObamaCare’s complex machinery, are really a jobs guarantee for the Democrats’ base in the 10%.)”