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Obama administration releases final rules on employment-based wellness programs – The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury continued to move forward to implement the health care law, by issuing final rules on employment-based wellness programs on May 29th.  The final rules give employers additional examples of compliant wellness plans or policies that employers can use to tailor their own plans to their unique workforces. The rules aim to protect individuals from unfair practices that could reduce benefits based on health status. The rules also outline standards for programs that reward individuals who meet a specific standard related to their health.  Theses final rules ensure flexibility for employers by increasing the maximum reward that may be offered under appropriately designed wellness programs.  They also protect consumers by requiring that wellness programs be reasonably designed, uniformly available to all similarly situated individuals, and accommodate recommendations made at any time by an individual’s physician based on medical appropriateness.  The final rules — which go into effect for plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2014 — support workplace health promotion and prevention as a means to reduce the burden of chronic illness, improve health, and limit the growth of health care costs.  View the final rule.  Read the full story on the employment-based wellness programs final rules.


VA, DoD and HHS Partner to Expand Access to Mental Health Services for Veterans, Service Members and Families – Recently, the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA), Defense (DoD) and Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the progress made to date on initiatives called for in President Obama’s August 31, 2012, Executive Order (E.O.). The E.O. directed VA, DoD, and HHS to take a number of steps to ensure that Veterans, Service Members, and their families receive the mental health services and support they need. Working together, the Departments are expanding the public health approach to providing optimal support for the mental health needs of Veterans, Service Members and their families.  To date they are:

  • Increasing the capacity of the Veterans Crisis Line by 50 percent to help ensure that Veterans in crisis can readily reach help.
  • Establishing 15 pilot projects in seven states where VA is working with community-based mental health providers to help Veterans access mental health services in a timely way.
  • Increasing VA mental health services capacity through VA hiring of nearly1,400 mental health providers and over 248 new peer specialists.
  • Implementing a national suicide prevention campaign to connect Veterans and Service Members to mental health services.

The Departments are actively working on additional deliverables called for in the Executive Order, including the development of a National Research Action Plan. The Departments released an interim report, found here, outlining progress on this initiative. Learn more about what the Departments are doing.


Obama administration releases final rules on employment-based wellness programs – The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury continued to move forward to implement the health care law, by issuing final rules on employment-based wellness programs on May 29th.  The final rules give employers additional examples of compliant wellness plans or policies that employers can use to tailor their own plans to their unique workforces. The rules aim to protect individuals from unfair practices that could reduce benefits based on health status. The rules also outline standards for programs that reward individuals who meet a specific standard related to their health.  Theses final rules ensure flexibility for employers by increasing the maximum reward that may be offered under appropriately designed wellness programs.  They also protect consumers by requiring that wellness programs be reasonably designed, uniformly available to all similarly situated individuals, and accommodate recommendations made at any time by an individual’s physician based on medical appropriateness.  The final rules — which go into effect for plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2014 — support workplace health promotion and prevention as a means to reduce the burden of chronic illness, improve health, and limit the growth of health care costs.  View the final ruleRead the full story on the employment-based wellness programs final rules.


VA, DoD and HHS Partner to Expand Access to Mental Health Services for Veterans, Service Members and Families – Recently, the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA), Defense (DoD) and Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the progress made to date on initiatives called for in President Obama’s August 31, 2012, Executive Order (E.O.). The E.O. directed VA, DoD, and HHS to take a number of steps to ensure that Veterans, Service Members, and their families receive the mental health services and support they need. Working together, the Departments are expanding the public health approach to providing optimal support for the mental health needs of Veterans, Service Members and their families.  To date they are:

  • Increasing the capacity of the Veterans Crisis Line by 50 percent to help ensure that Veterans in crisis can readily reach help.
  • Establishing 15 pilot projects in seven states where VA is working with community-based mental health providers to help Veterans access mental health services in a timely way.
  • Increasing VA mental health services capacity through VA hiring of nearly1,400 mental health providers and over 248 new peer specialists.
  • Implementing a national suicide prevention campaign to connect Veterans and Service Members to mental health services.

The Departments are actively working on additional deliverables called for in the Executive Order, including the development of a National Research Action Plan. The Departments released an interim report, found here, outlining progress on this initiative. Learn more about what the Departments are doing.

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