Next up is a different kind of look at workplace wellness programs and how they might affect one group of workers who cannot participate fully in them. The U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, headed by Senator Lamar Alexander, held hearings recently to help get to the bottom of discrepancies between the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) initiatives to encourage workplace wellness and prevention programs and the existing Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

ADA vs ACA and Wellness

Handicapped-Office-WorkerEmployers are frustrated by employees taking them to court for doing what the affordable care act wants them to do, creating wellness programs, because they don’t make adaptations for those employees with disabilities. They want guidance from the federal government on how to proceed and they aren’t getting it very fast. One advocate from the businesses represented there said that it was “Impossible for employers to abide by rules that do not exist.”

It’s a shame that such programs are under fire when they offer such a broad way to address prevention and health efforts in the workplace community. There has to be a way to implement incentives fairly to allow all employees to meet some form of wellness incentive despite their disabilities.

Nurses Key to Adapting for Disabilities

I know that some employers offer substantial insurance or copay savings to the employees who can meet the wellness goals but there must be goals set that are appropriate for those with disabilities. Some workplaces offer incentives to get a certain number of steps in each day, using networked wearable pedometers to track the teams in the programs. How do you measure the team members who are disabled or wheelchair bound?

I think that nurses could be the answer to this problem since we are trained to help patients set realistic goals and create personalized interventions that are designed with the patient’s specific limitations in mind. Perhaps this could be a solution to help in this case. We’ll have to see what the guidance from the federal agencies involved is when it comes out.

Make sure you follow-up on the links for this news item and all of the other news and additional resource links from this week’s episode – Treating Opioid Overdoses in the Community and Episode 334.



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