A very positive element in the Senate health care cost control legislation is the creation of a Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund. I strongly support the creation of this fund because it will support cost-effective community-based prevention. Over the past few years, the Department of Public Health has been significantly under-funded — putting this trust fund in place will assure that the Commonwealth makes the necessary investments in prevention.
In the legislation as drafted, the fund will sunset after five years. I am a cosponsor with Senator Chandler of an amendment to remove the sunset provision.
Immediately below is language from the Senate President’s summary of the provision.
- Establishes a “Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund” to be administered by the Department of Public Health, in consultation with an advisory board.
- The Fund collects $20 million a year for 5 years from a “health system benefit” surcharge on health plans. After 5 years the assessment sunsets.
- The purpose of the Fund is to support community-based prevention and wellness programs aimed at reducing the most costly and most prevalent avoidable health conditions.
- Funds are provided to organizations through a competitive grant process.
- Up to 10% of the funds collected in any year may be used by the Department to promote workplace wellness programs.
- Requires the Department of Public Health to develop a “model guide” for wellness programs for businesses and may provide stipends to help businesses establish programs that improve health, reduce recidivism, and help control the growth in business health care premium costs.
- Expands an existing wellness incentive program for small businesses offered by the Commonwealth Connector. The bill allows more small businesses to be eligible for this program and increases the subsidy from 5% to 15% of the employer’s premium costs.
Click here for a summary letter from advocates about the fund. I agree with their recommendationt to eliminate the sunset provision.