CEOs threaten to derail ACA over wellness programs

The chief executives of some major companies are considering withdrawing their support of the Affordable Care Act after the Obama administration sued one of the country's most successful wellness programs offered by Honeywell, reported Reuters.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against Honeywell for imposing a $500 fine on its Minnesota-based employees if they don't undergo biometric screenings, which are required to participate in its wellness program. Then, a federal judge decided that wellness programs like Honeywell's can penalize employees for not participating, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

"The fact that the EEOC sued is shocking to our members," Maria Ghazal, vice president and counsel at the Business Roundtable, told Reuters. "They don't understand why a plan in compliance with the ACA is the target of a lawsuit. This is a major issue to our members."

If businesses do try to undermine the ACA, they could throw their weight behind the subsidy challenge that the Supreme Court recently announced it will be hearing next year. Or they could support GOP lawmakers, who already have filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration for violating the Constitution while implementing the healthcare reform law, and who are expected to work toward repealing the ACA once they take control of Congress next year.

That could include CEOs making themselves available for hearings on repealing the ACA. "We never did this before," a person familiar with the executives' thinking told Reuters. "But they could turn up the noise. I don't think the White House would want the CEOs turning on them and supporting these efforts on the Hill."

And, of course, companies could make radical changes to employer-sponsored health insurance. Although they're unlikely to eliminate it altogether, CEOs could decide to provide a fixed amount of money for their employees to buy coverage through the exchanges.

To learn more:
- read the Reuters article