By Rep. Virginia Foxx, Winston-Salem Journal
I believe the Journal’s March 15 editorial “A wrongheaded bill on genetic screening” misrepresents legislation to provide regulatory clarity for voluntary employee wellness plans.
A provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) encouraged greater use of these wellness programs. However, steps taken by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) led to conflicting regulations. Those who want to offer these programs must either follow the ACA guidelines and be in violation of the EEOC rules or vice versa. By reaffirming the policies outlined in the ACA, H.R. 1313 removes this legal uncertainty so employees can continue to benefit from these voluntary wellness plans.
It’s important to understand that wellness programs have always been completely voluntary. They remain voluntary under H.R. 1313. Furthermore, discrimination based on genetic information is illegal under existing federal law and remains illegal under H.R. 1313.
The editorial also claims the legislation imposes financial penalties on individuals who decline to participate. I disagree. In programs that offer incentives, those who choose to enroll can receive a reduction in their health-insurance premiums. Those who decline to participate are not forced to pay any additional health-care costs, nor will they experience any increase in their health-insurance premiums.
Voluntary employee wellness plans have long helped working families control their health-care costs and improve their quality of life. It’s unfortunate that critics of the bill are spreading false information to deny workers that option.
Rep. Virginia Foxx, Banner Elk
Virginia Foxx is North Carolina’s 5th Congressional District representative. — the editor