The PPACA includes a grant program to assist small businesses in providing comprehensive workplace wellness programs. Grants will be awarded to eligible employers to provide their employees with access to new workplace wellness initiatives.
The grants will be awarded beginning in 2011 with $200 million appropriated for a five-year period. An eligible employer is an employer that: Employs fewer than 100 employees who work 25 hours or more per week; and Did NOT have a workplace wellness program in place as of March 23, 2010.
The PPACA requires the Secretary of HHS to develop program criteria that are based on research and best practices. A comprehensive workplace wellness program must be made available to all employees and include:
- Health awareness initiatives (including health education, preventive screenings, and health risk assessments)
- Efforts to maximize employee engagement (including mechanisms to encourage employee participation)
- Initiatives to change unhealthy behaviors and lifestyle choices (including counseling, seminars, online programs, and self-help materials)
- Supportive environment efforts (including workplace policies to encourage healthy lifestyles, healthy eating, increased physical activity, and improved mental health)
Small businesses need to be prepared with a wellness program that meets the criteria and requirements as described in the PPACA and developed by the Secretary of HHS.
There are still many unanswered questions regarding the implementation of the program. However, adding provisions for wellness and prevention under PPACA is one small step for a healthier workforce.