On Wednesday, the US House of Representatives passed a bill that would expand employer-sponsored health insurance to cover a wider array of wellness programs, including home health care, dental care, and a wide variety of other programs.
The bill, HR 618, would require employers to cover these wellness programs if they want to retain or expand the benefits offered by these health plans.
The legislation also provides the government with a waiver authority to offer such programs.
“There is a growing movement to broaden wellness programs in the workplace to include a broader range of services, from home care to dental care,” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), who sponsored the legislation, told the House.
“In a way, this is a win for the American public.
By expanding the availability of wellness benefits, we can keep workers healthier and keep our communities safe.”
Under HR 619, employers would have to provide at least one wellness program for every 100 workers in the workforce, regardless of the type of health insurance they offer.
The House bill would also make it a crime to discriminate against workers with a health insurance plan.
“Employers have an obligation to provide the health benefits and services they have agreed to provide to their employees,” Lee said in a statement.
“By expanding the definition of wellness, we are ensuring that employers have the tools to make sure they provide the best possible care to their workers.”
HR 617 passed the House in April.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, expanding workplace wellness coverage to cover other types of benefits would add $6.2 billion to the federal budget.
The AHIP report found that the expansion of wellness coverage would reduce the number of employees who needed health insurance coverage by 4.1 million, or approximately 1 percent.
The CBO also estimated that the bill would reduce health care spending by $5.6 billion over the next decade.
In addition to boosting worker wellness, the legislation also aims to reduce workplace discrimination and ensure that Americans have access to the best health care options, including affordable, quality health care.
“These measures will make the workforce healthier and protect our families and communities from health care disparities,” Rep of Health, Labor and Pensions, John Larson (D) told ThinkProgress.
“This bill will protect employees and workers from the cost of wellness.”
The legislation is scheduled to be voted on by the House on Thursday.
A House committee approved HR 624 in January.
In March, the House Ways and Means Committee voted to make the bill permanent in a party-line vote.
The Ways and and Means panel was made up of representatives from the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, and other groups.
The measure passed on a voice vote, with three Republicans voting in favor and five Democrats voting against.