According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 35 percent of all Americans are overweight and obese. Last week, Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), John Cornyn (R-TX) and Representatives Blumenauer (D-OR) and Mack (R-CA) have introduced the bipartisan Healthy Workforce Act. (HR 1897, SB 803). The bills would provide a tax credit to companies that offer effective and comprehensive wellness programs such as health risk assessments, health awareness and behavioral change programs. According to Senator Harkin’s press release the bills would cover 135 million full and part-time employees and provide the tax credits to programs that provide meaningful incentives for program participation and employee committees that tailor programs to meet workforce needs. Wellness programs typically promote physical activity and disease prevention such as weight loss and exercise programs, smoking cessation programs, and health screening programs.
The bills are supported by the American Heart Association and the U.S. Workplace Wellness Alliance, a group comprised of businesses, health care advocates, and nonprofit organizations dedicated to the vision that a healthier U.S. workforce.