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tv   Washington Journal Jennifer Mathis Discusses Workplace Wellness Programs...  CSPAN  March 19, 2017 8:34am-9:04am EDT

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three or four of them that were kind of them cropping up as possible nominees at the last time, you zero in on those last three or four. you can see why president trump picked this nominee as opposed to some of the other three or four that were mentioned. >> washington journal continues. our guest is jennifer mathis. good sunday and monday -- morning. this has prompted us to come onto the program. how healthy are you? the gop bill would help employers find out. thislicans are voting on legislation. explained the headline. bille headline refers to a
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that would change the way workplace wellness programs work. workplace wellness programs are programs that employers are increasingly using to try to encourage employers -- rather employees to adopt healthier behaviors. in many cases they are just collecting information about employees health. apparently now their genetic information. what this will would do is to remove many of the workplace privacy protections, civil rights protections that apply when employers use these programs. employers can't have these programs that sometimes are connected to a health program, sometimes outside of a health program. they may look like offering classes, gym classes, offering incentives to walk or run or do
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other programs, smoking cessation programs. at is all good. the idea behind these programs is that employees will be healthier, and a save on health costs and everybody will be healthy. it doesn't always work that way. i think there are studies showing that these programs don't necessarily do a lot in terms of either making employees healthier or saving employers money. in an effort to boost the use of these programs, and begin -- not increase theually use of financial incentives to push employees to participate more in these programs, and to disclose their information more, this bill takes away the protections that limited what employers could do in terms of those kinds of penalties, in
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terms of pressures that could be brought to bear on employees who chose not to participate or not to disclose sensitive health and genetic information. i want to show you a headline from nebraska. live well, nebraska. the question is whether or not this is an invasion of privacy. the concern that people have expressed, that this is an invasion of privacy in what this bill would do is really enable employers to force workers to turn over health information, genetic information that is not related to their ability to do the job, that they do not want to turn over. but if imposed, it would allow company ofion of the
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many thousands of dollars for exercising a choice to keep that information private. that information, once it is turned over to a wellness program, may sometimes be used and maybehere trericy protections in some questions. in certain cases to well miss programs, you can be asked to rights -- hip up pa rights. out there in the world. one of the civil rights laws were passed, congress was concerned enough about employers having access to the workers medical information and potentially discriminating based on that. the congress said, if there is no legitimate employer purpose
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in having this information, then they should not have it at all. they don't want employers to have it because that opens the door to discrimination. it has to be voluntary. that is why the ada is so important and why the genetic , they have law parallel protections to say you cannot ask employees for this information except if it is voluntary as part of a wellness program, both of those laws voluntary.unteer -- to say if you don't turn over your health information, then you will lose your job or i will cancel your health insurance altogether. that would be very concerning
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and an invasion of privacy and most people's minds. i think that bill takes away the protections that the ada would have offered, which would have prevented that. >> if you are in the workplace wellness program, and employer affected by this, or hding up one of t divisions, please call. drive want something kept it, don't tell it to your employer or anybody else. note need for new regulation. but what you are saying is this could be a new requirement potentially. >> this would take away protections. protectionshere are in the existing civil rights laws, in the ada that says an employer cannot require you to turn over this information because it has to be voluntary, if it is part of a wellness program. they cannot penalize you beyond
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a certain amount for choosing not to disclose information. if this bill went into effect it would take away the protections, an employer could force you so you would not have a choice. says they want the information or you are fired, then you can choose not to turn over the information but you might lose her job. the basil on center is a nonprofit for mental health law, country, wess the do litigation, policy advocacy. we represent the interests of people where mental disabilities, primarily people with psychiatric disabilities we promote equal opportunity for people with mental disabilities in all walks of life in the community.
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health care, employment, housing, family and her rental rights. our goal is really to have a world where people with disabilities have the same kinds of lives as people without disabilities. caller: i know with the data, with they can do when they use some -- smartphones. mine's told me i should be careful how use or phone and whatnot because they can look at a lot of this. they will gather all this information on you as an individual. guests: data mining is a concern. i think there are protections in place through the civil rights laws and through the ada, and through gina, is an employee --
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a smart phone or something like that and are part of a wellness program. your question may be going beyond wellness programs, you do have some protections that you cannot be forced to turn over your information is it is not voluntary. regulations the u.s. eeoc commission did promulgate some regulations under the ada and gina where they defined what voluntary means and under the front -- created -- they tried to something basalt was reasonable. what this will would do is allow penalties far beyond that and protections.ke away t
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for example, it would allow people potentially to be fired for failing to disclose their information. concern, i is a think that is why many people are concerned about what would happen if this bill were to pass. familyt the kaiser -- website, the smoking cessation program, also the other programs include wellness newsletters and jim membership. william in virginia, independent line. story andust a quick i'm not sure there is anything you can do about this. and we were in our 50's and my wife got laid off. she could not find another job.
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herhad cobra and paid health insurance for the 18 months, then we had to go to the same company, she filled out the application and we answered every question honestly. end result is they found out she was on a cpac machine and instantly her premium went to $1000 a month. what we stard complaining, the person online said if you had not been with us before, there's no way you would get insurance. right now, we are between out-of-pocket and her premium it is $2000 a month. that hits hard. i wonder if young people who constantly go to the doctor and
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thathings, i would suggest unless it is a dire emergency that you get nothing on your record. host: thank you for sharing that with us. i'm not sure if that was part of a wellness program or something else. these wellness programs authorized penalties that make a pay expensive for people to their health insurance premium. you get penalized for not turning over information, in your case because you do turn over the information, i don't take this is a case of wellness program penalizing for not turning over the information.
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i am not sure what happened, but i think with the changes that were made with the affordable care act, that kind of premium adjustment has limitations on what you can do to people's premiums based on health condition that they have. i am not an expert in this area. host: if the employer provides her health insurance, they probably already know your medical history. the wellness program are different, they are collecting additional information and the concern is that information should not be penalized.
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you should not be penalized for choosing not to turnover that information. ost: they do this because they offer a cost reduction to health care plans for the data. guests: right. yes, if youern is turn over your information you discount,d a premium youthe upshot of that is can call it a penalty, a discount or an incentive. if you choose to exercise your right not to turn over that -- is a lot of
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money, in many cases. it could be up to 30% of family demands, somewhere between $5,000 and $6,000 in some cases. caller: i am not in the workplace anymore but i kind of feel for the people who still are, for having to worry about things like this. i think this kind of ill is -- bill is a total invasion of privacy. people are there to do a job. ability to put people in schools at their this --slace, that insurance for people should be taken out of this environment and employers should not be providing health coverage for the employees. we need something like a
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single-payer or not employer way to cover people and keep it separate. guest: ,hat is the larger issue whether it should be provided through employers or a different way. one of the things that will come out of the current congressional some perhaps decisions on that and how health insurance should be provided. in terms of wellness programs the point is they tend to be offered primarily through employers and in conjunction with employer-based health insurance. as long as we have an employer based system, which we don't seem to be moving away from anytime soon, these are real concerns. when you're talking
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people's health information getting into the workplace and being accessible to the employer, that is where privacy concerns come in. if you are working as part of the wellness program, we would like to hear from you, (202)-748-8003. harvard business taking a look at this industry. about two thirds of all employers offered the program, a $6 billion industry. vendors telling companies about standalone programs or ones that are optional. let's go to james in new york. good morning. caller: good morning. .'m interested as come across this situation in and my job. i worked for a large school system which has many components under the health plan. i just recently had got
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something for company having health care strategies that i have been enrolled in the so-called clinical review that says underlying confidential for my medical and prescription drug information is available. accident, i had an that led to me being prescribed prescription opioids, which i need to go to work. over the years, i have tried other avenues with pain diagnosis and what not. it seems to me this letter, which they are asking me to kindly respond to, i get a follow-up letter, which is more like you better respond and this will i have never heard of until now, so thank you, c-span and your guest today, but i am
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concerned on whether i should -- it seems i have to respond and i am and honest and open person, but i am concerned about how much i can say and will i feel uncomfortable answering that or what information does my like you say, they have access to my health care records. i don't know how much they can because personal stuff it was traditionally between a doctor and patient. host: thanks for the call. let me add, whether you are currently employed are looking for employment, doesn't have to be the same? is in most of this connection with people who were already employed and wellness programs are offering for pele who aremployees. the ada auay does provide protection for people who are
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not yet employed who are applying for jobs, as well as people who are employed. employers toallow ask employees for information and in some circumstances, applicants, if they have been given a job offer already that is conditional, it allows the employer to ask medical information relevant to your ability to do the job. other medical information that is not relevant to your ability to do the job is different. that is not something -- that is something the ada prohibits an employer for masking employees, except for this no exception of when it is asked for voluntarily as part of a wellness program. yes, i think many people raised the concern that employers should not be getting into what
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should be between you and your doctor in terms of how you choose to address wellness and your health when it does not have to do with your ability to do the job. kelly in togo to them north carolina. what do you do? caller: i am in a position at the university that has had a wellness program for years. host: tell us what you are hearing and go ahead with your question. caller: this does highlight and employer-based care system. i want to point out for callers that think this is the reason to get the single-payer, if you're anxious about your employer having this information, one can imagine the abuse because be subjected to and it will be promulgated out of good intentions but could be warped and manipulated at the time that nobody would like. host: thank you. guest: sure. this caller makes a gpoint.
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however wellness programs make the structure, whether they are attached to an employment -- employer, employer-based health insurance program, or completely separate from employment, i mean, there are privacy concerns that need to be addressed. because most of them are offered employment,with they do work with those in place. if we are talking about wellness programs that are not connected to employment, then they would need to be other safeguards. may provide some safeguards but there are a lot of limitations, and even anorcing it is not something individual person can do by going to court. he would have to file a complaint with the health and human services department and
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many of those don't actually get acted on or enforced and it often takes a long time. hipaa does provide some protections. sometimes, people asked to waive the protections. one of the protections that the cannoters says that you require an employee to waive rightsippa as a condition of participating. this is one that would go away if this became law. host: hipaa an acronym for? point health insurance ability and accountability act. host: a mouthful. guest: it was called something else in the 1990's. host: last call, bob. caller: thank you for taking my
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call. i think the concerning thing about this bill is that it could allow employers to require submit to genetic testing that could reveal that you have in almost certainty of developing alzheimer's or in the case of ofelina jolie, certain types tremendously expensive cancers that could render you unemployable or either uninsurable for the rest of your life and perhaps even your children. host: thank you. guest: the caller is right. lots of people have been concerned for that reason that this bill would open the door to employers being able to require genetic information, including
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genetic testing to be done as part of the workplace wellness program. right now, that isn't allowed informationgenetic dissemination act would prohibit employers from doing that. however, if the protection of gi da were emanated with respect to work as programs, as this bill would do, caller then what the -- then what the caller said may have been and employees would be required to undergo genetic testing. that is concerning to many people. right now, these programs are primarily focused on health information. it has been alarming to many folks that this seems to be a disinterest in getting into genetic information, hence all il.the b host: the website is bazelo
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n.org. we have been talking to jennifer or the basil on center. -- bazelon center. guest: thank you. host: live coverage of the supreme court confirmation hearing for peter gorsuch to serve on the u.s. supreme court, live before the senate judiciary committee on c-span2, www.c-span.org and check out our free c-span radio app. it will be streamed on www.c-span.org and c-span radio. first, the former chair of the senate judiciary committee and the ranking democrat to talk about what to expect tomorrow as the hearing process gets underway. chance forit is a people to have a window on supreme court justices. the supreme court is one court
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that does not allow cameras in it. i think it is a mistake. i think the american people will have a far better understanding of what is going on if they have cameras. in the hearings, there are cameras. you will be covering it, others ver it. >> how many coirmation hearings have you done? for 16,e only been here that i was chair of a couple, ranking member of a couple others. they are all different. they are all different and fascinating. somegoing to try to get idea of who the person is in front of us because if they are confirmed, you never in your life will have your chance to ask them another question. >> has the way for preparing changed over years? in 16 times ago? >> i think in some ways it is
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more intense what we go into. things that were considered routine i look at more carefully. how do predict where they may go? but ifs no prediction, anybody goes into here, you just ask a few questions on everything you know in the hearing, don't. hearing is the tip of the iceberg. there are thousands of pages we go through before the hearing. that is the iceberg. you talk to other senators? >> i talk to other senators about what they think and i found a number who are not on the judiciary committee will go to me and say, you're going to ask this and that? they have an interest in it. for republicans
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and democrats [indiscernible] meetings a number of to discuss this and questions and not to tell anybody what they have to ask or let's see if we are covering everything. >> "washington journal" continues. host: we went to welcome back author peter bergen. his new book in paperback now, "united states of jihad: investigating america's homegrown terrorists." good sunday morning. let me go to a premise of your book. you wrote "even as it was losing ground, the number of isis inspired attacks in the west increased. the loss of territory appear to have little effect to influence americans like omar mateen. this will be isis's legacy in the united

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