Sunday, August 05, 2007

New Act To Bolster Employee Health and Company Savings

A step in the right direction. Now for ergonomics prevention ...

"Recently proposed legislation, if passed, would offer incentives to businesses to encourage them to implement workplace wellness programs that offer their employees the opportunity to live healthier lives and prevent chronic illnesses.

On July 9, co-sponsors Senators Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., introduced the Healthy Workforce Act, which would provide a tax credit of up to $200 per employee for the first 200 employees, and up to $100 per employee thereafter, to businesses that offer comprehensive wellness programs.

The bill requires the programs to include components such as health awareness programs and health risk assessments, behavior change programs, meaningful incentives for program participation and an employee committee that tailors programs to meet workforce needs. An employer can receive the tax credit for 10 years after establishing new qualified wellness programs.

Preventable chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease, affect more than 33 percent of working-age Americans and make up nearly 75 percent of the nation’s total health care costs. Some companies report spending more than 50 percent of their profits to cover health care expenses for their employees.

“I am thrilled to be standing shoulder to shoulder with both the public health community and leaders in business and industry in a united front to tackle the health care crisis in our country,” said Harkin. “The rising cost of health care has taken its toll on individuals, but also on businesses that provide health coverage to their employees - with employer health care costs rising by more than 70 percent since the year 2000. This trend is affecting American companies' ability to remain competitive in our global economy, and we must find a way to turn it around."    (Continued via Occupational Hazards)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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