Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA)&Gordon Smith (R-OR)have proposed legislation that would create a tax credit for employers that offer wellness programs. The Healthy Workforce Act (Senate Bill 1753) would provide a tax credit of up to $200 per employee for the first 200 employees and $100 per employee thereafter to businesses offering wellness programs.
To qualify for the program,businesses would have to initiate employee wellness programs including at least three of the four criteria:
- Health awareness programs with education and health risk assessment programs;
- Behavioral change programs encouraging employees to lead a healthy lifestyle through counseling,seminars or on-line programs such as classes on nutrition,stress management or smoking cessation;
- An employee engagement committee established to engage and track employees in worksite wellness programs and;
- A supportive work environment to encourage employee participation in workplace wellness programs that include:
- Policies and services promoting a healthy lifestyle such as restricted tobacco use at work,nutrition information, encouragement of physical activity before,during and after work hours and promoting positive mental health;
- Qualified incentive bene ﬁ ts for each employee who participates in health screenings or behavioral change programs;
- Opportunity for employees to participate in the management of any qualified wellness program.
The tax credit would be available to an eligible employer for a period of 10 years.
While the cost of the legislation has not been verified, Senator Harkin believes that for every $1 spent on wellness and prevention programs over one year to 18 months, saves $3 – $4 in health care costs. He hopes to attach the measure to tax legislation that will be considered this fall.
To send an email to your Senators supporting SB 1753, visit http://www.senate.gov/ and use the “Find Your Senators” menu in the upper right corner of the page. Once the form pops up, include all your contact info, and specify your topic so your email can be forwarded to the appropriate staffer. Or call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for your Senator’s office.