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ACS CAN: Proposed ACA Wellness Regulation Should Prevent Unintended Discrimination

January 25, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. – January 25, 2013 – The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) today filed comments with the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury (the Departments) on the proposed rule, “Incentives for Nondiscriminatory Wellness Programs in Group Health Plans,” of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The proposal offers guidance on designing wellness programs to promote health, rather than discriminate against participants who cannot meet specific health outcomes.

The comments underscore ACS CAN’s strong belief that comprehensive employee wellness programs that promote healthy behaviors are important in the fight against cancer. The comments further state that worksite wellness programs can contribute positively to improving health if structured properly.  However, the comments warn against the use of rewards and penalties that jeopardize access to affordable, quality health care among employees or their dependents, or that have the effect of discriminating based on health outcomes, even inadvertantly.

ACS CAN’s comments on the wellness proposal emphasize that wellness programs have a clearly demonstrated potential for improving health, and encourage the Departments to require program designs that ensure that all participants are provided support to achieve improved health. The comments also include concerns about incentives or penalties that could price some individuals out of coverage who are unable to meet program goals.

Additionally, the comments strongly recommend that in all cases, the affordability provisions of the ACA supersede wellness plan design.  Highlighting an example of a penalty that could erect new barriers to care for those who need it most, the comments call out the tobacco surcharge, and urge the Departments to require that programs cannot impose higher costs on tobacco users if they do not also provide full and complete access to robust cessation programs.

For a full copy of the wellness regulation comments, visit:

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit

Alissa Crispino or Steven Weiss
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
Phone: (202) 661-5772 or (202) 661-5711
Email: or

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For media inquiries, please contact:
Alissa Crispino
Phone: (202) 661-5772

Jill Courtney
Phone: (202) 585-3278

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ACS CAN is the nation's leading cancer advocacy organization that is working every day to make cancer issues a national priority. More

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