Adirondack Health Institute News

AHI Receives Grant Funding to Expand Diabetes Prevention Efforts

We are pleased to announce AHI is one of 25 organizations in the state to receive new grant funding from the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth) to expand diabetes prevention efforts. The funding will help AHI implement and expand the National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP), an initiative that focuses on lifestyle changes to improve healthy eating and physical activity.

In New York State, an estimated 4.5 million people have prediabetes, a condition which heightens a person’s risk for developing diabetes and its complications. While curbing the diabetes epidemic is a daunting task, strong evidence has emerged in support of strategies to prevent diabetes. Specifically, the NDPP was identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an effective, evidence-based public health program. This lifestyle intervention has been shown to help participants lose 5–7% of their body weight and reduce their risk of developing diabetes by nearly 60%.

Through the “Laying the Groundwork to Scale Up the National Diabetes Prevention Program in New York State” initiative, NYSHealth have awarded grants to organizations to implement, expand, and secure the sustainability of the NDPP in community-based settings across the State. NYSHealth awarded AHI a grant to participate in this initiative.

With NYSHealth funding, grantees of this initiative will reach communities with high rates of diabetes and prediabetes, making this effective program available to New Yorkers in places where they live, work, and worship. The grant awards will support a range of activities to help organizations implement and grow the NDPP, including the expansion of existing programs; communication, outreach, and education activities to obtain a steady flow of participants; and development of business plans to ensure the sustainability of the program.

Specifically, AHI seeks to train up to seven lifestyle coaches to deliver the NDPP at worksite wellness programs in four organizations serving the Adirondack region. AHI will offer 10 NDPP cycles, enrolling a total of 150 participants. We will conduct communication, outreach, and education activities to obtain a steady flow of referrals.

The Affordable Care Act and Wellness Programs – Ensuring Flexibility for Employers

The proposed rules also implement changes in the Affordable Care Act that increase the maximum permissible reward under a health-contingent wellness program from 20 percent to 30 percent of the cost of health coverage, and that further increases the maximum reward to as much as 50 percent for programs designed to prevent or reduce tobacco use.

Evidence shows that workplace health programs have the potential to promote healthy behaviors; improve employees’ health knowledge and skills; help employees get necessary health screenings, immunizations, and follow-up care; and reduce workplace exposure to substances and hazards that can cause diseases and injury. The proposed rules would not specify the types of wellness programs employers can offer, and invite comments on additional standards for wellness programs to protect consumers.

This information can be found at:  http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2012/11/wellness11202012a.html

 

The Affordable Care Act and Wellness Programs

In order to protect consumers from unfair practices, the proposed regulations would require health-contingent wellness programs to follow certain rules, including:

-Programs must be reasonably designed to promote health or prevent disease. To be considered reasonably designed to promote health or prevent disease, a program would have to offer a different, reasonable means of qualifying for the reward to any individual who does not meet the standard based on the measurement, test or screening. Programs must have a reasonable chance of improving health or preventing disease and not be overly burdensome for individuals.

-Programs must be reasonably designed to be available to all similarly situated individuals. Reasonable alternative means of qualifying for the reward would have to be offered to individuals whose medical conditions make it unreasonably difficult, or for whom it is medically inadvisable, to meet the specified health-related standard.

-Individuals must be given notice of the opportunity to qualify for the same reward through other means. These proposed rules provide new sample language intended to be simpler for individuals to understand and to increase the likelihood that those who qualify for a different means of obtaining a reward will contact the plan or issuer to request it.

For more information, you can read the proposed rule on wellness programs at: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=EBSA-2012-0031-0001.

 

 

The Affordable Care Act and Wellness Programs

Implementing and expanding employer wellness programs may offer our nation the opportunity to not only improve the health of Americans, but also help control health care spending.

The Affordable Care Act creates new incentives and builds on existing wellness program policies to promote employer wellness programs and encourage opportunities to support healthier workplaces.  The Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor and the Treasury are jointly releasing proposed rules on wellness programs to reflect the changes to existing wellness provisions made by the Affordable Care Act and to encourage appropriately designed, consumer-protective wellness programs in group health coverage. These proposed rules would be effective for plan years starting on or after January 1, 2014.

The proposed rules continue to support workplace wellness programs, including “participatory wellness programs” which generally are available without regard to an individual’s health status. These include, for example, programs that reimburse for the cost of membership in a fitness center; or that provides a reward    who complete a health risk assessment without requiring them to take further action.

The rules also outline amended standards for nondiscriminatory “health-contingent wellness programs,” which generally require individuals to meet a specific standard related to their health to obtain a reward. Examples of health-contingent wellness programs include programs that provide a reward to those who do not use, or decrease their use of, tobacco, or programs that provide a reward to those who achieve a specified cholesterol level or weight as well as those who fail to meet that biometric target but take certain additional required actions.

More info to follow….