Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Apply By August 8 To Receive Health Reform Funds For Employer Health Programs

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced that it is making available $10 million from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's Prevention and Public Health Fund to establish and evaluate comprehensive workplace health promotion programs across the nation to improve the health of American workers and their families. The initiative's goal is to improve workplace environments to support healthy lifestyles and reduce risk factors for chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes, the HHS said. Applications must be submitted by August 8.

"Spiraling health care costs and declines in worker productivity due to poor health are eroding the bottom line of American businesses," said Kathleen Sebelius, HHS Secretary. "This new initiative will help companies of all sizes implement strategies to improve employee health and contain health costs driven largely by chronic diseases."

Project funds will support evidence-based initiatives to build worksite capacity and improve workplace culture in support of health, the HHS explained. Examples of such strategies include establishing tobacco-free campus policies, promoting flextime to allow employees to be more physically active, and offering more healthy food choices in worksite cafeterias and vending machines. A core principle of the initiative is to maximize employee engagement in designing and implementing the programs so they have the greatest chances of success.

The funds will be awarded through a competitive contract to an organization with the expertise and capacity to work with groups of employers across the nation to develop and expand workplace health programs in small and large worksites. Participating companies will educate employees about good health practices and establish work environments that promote physical activity and proper nutrition and discourage tobacco use --the key lifestyle behaviors that reduce employees' risk for chronic disease.

"This is an exciting opportunity to help employers deliver effective workplace health programs on a national scale," said Thomas Frieden, director of HHS' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which oversees the initiative. "The promise of this strategy is a win-win: workers will be healthier and more productive, and companies will be more profitable."

For more information on submitting proposals for the Comprehensive Health Programs to Address Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Tobacco Use in the Workplace, visit

For a comprehensive analysis of the ACA, and additional information on health reform and other developments in employee benefits, just click here.


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