New proposed rules for wellness programs that were released last week under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act don't break much new ground, but they will likely provide the framework and clarity that will encourage more employers to participate, observers say.
"It's a good starting point," says Stephanie A. Mills, MD, president and CEO of Baton Rouge, LA–based Franciscan Health and Wellness Services, Inc. "It's the floor, and maybe a few walls, [and] some more structure and definition. I believe that it can be instrumental in providing clarity for the path forward for employers and decreasing that anxiety to jump into this by addressing the top concerns that employers have."
Within the overall framework of the wellness program guidelines, Mills says she has so far found "no major surprises."
"Overall, for those of us who are supporting wellness programs, this is well in line with the best-practice approach," she says. "There are pros and cons, as there are with any new regulations, and we will learn more as we go into the details, but at first glance it seems to be a positive for employers and individuals."