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The Affordable Care Act and Incentivized Health Wellness Programs – A Tale Of Federalism and Shifting Administrative Burden

JHHSA, Vol. 37 No. 3, (2014)

The Patient Protection and 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 proposed rules are promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Labor, and the Treasury Department, and seek to encourage appropriately designed, consumer-protective wellness programs in group health coverage. This legislative landscape raises significant federalism concerns insofar as it largely shifts the responsibility for administration of health incentive programs to the states. Little attention has been paid to the shifting “administrative burden” that would thereby ensue. This paper will address the distribution of power in the American federal system vis-à- vis subnational counterparts in the wake of rampant, recent health care reform efforts. This paper will therefore explore the willingness of the national government to delegate policymaking responsibility to state governments in the context of an important aspect of healthcare reform. This, in turn, can be used to assess the distribution of powers between governmental levels—a subject that has received little systematic inquiry to date. Finally, this paper will explore the degree of administrative burden shifting that may likely occur as a result of these changes in health reform and what potential impacts it may have on individual health.

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