By Dr. Mercola
In March 2017, Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) sponsored bill H.R. 1313, the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act. At first glance the bill sounds reasonable, as it encourages the development of employee wellness programs to encourage workers to make healthier lifestyle choices.
The bill asserts that such health promotion and prevention programs help to reduce chronic illness, improve health and limit expanding health care costs.1
The bill is intended to “clarify rules relating to nondiscriminatory workplace wellness programs” and gives employers legal grounds to enforce the use of their wellness programs among employees. Specifically, the bill states in Section 2(3):2
” … [E]mployers would be permitted to implement health promotion and prevention programs that provide incentives, rewards, rebates, surcharges, penalties, or other inducements related to wellness programs, including rewards of up to 50 percent off of insurance premiums for employees participating in programs designed to encourage healthier lifestyle choices.”
Will Employees Be Penalized for Opting Out of Workplace Vaccines?
Some consumer groups, including the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), are calling on Americans to oppose H.R. 1313 because it essentially coerces employees into employer-run wellness programs, which pertain not only to programs of health promotion but also to “disease prevention offered by an employer.”3
“The words ‘disease prevention’ are concerning since not everyone agrees with the use of vaccines to prevent disease,” NVIC noted.
In addition to the talk of surcharges and penalties in Section 2(3), Section 3(c) suggests that employers may be able to require employees who do not follow through with certain wellness standards to request and complete an alternative standard:4
“Nothing … shall be construed to prevent an employer that is offering a wellness program to an employee from requiring such employee … to request a reasonable alternative standard (or waiver of the otherwise applicable standard).
Nothing … shall be construed to prevent an employer from imposing a reasonable time period … during which the employee must complete the reasonable alternative standard.”
NVIC stated in an action alert:5
“The concern is this bill if passed into law would be applied to penalize employees who do not get regular vaccines imposed by an employee wellness plan. H.R. 1313 is indeed a threat to anyone employed by a company or large organization that offers a ‘wellness’ program …
… and partners with government and Pharma to ‘give carrots and apply sticks’ to employees who do or do not go along with government endorsed ‘standard of care,’ which includes receipt of federally recommended vaccines, whether the language in this bill says the word ‘vaccine’ or not.”
A Legal Requirement for Vaccine Mandates at Work?
The U.S. government claims it does not impose vaccine mandates for adults, except for those entering the military. However, it’s not unusual for hospitals and other employers to fire workers who refuse certain vaccines, such as annual flu shots.
According to Dr. Meryl Nass, a vaccine blogger with special interests in vaccine-induced illnesses, it appears American hospitals do not actually have a legal leg to stand on when firing health care workers over vaccine refusals, although they do have financial incentive to do so.
In short, hospitals that have higher vaccination rates for patients and health care workers get higher Medicare reimbursement rates. Perhaps H.R. 1313 would also give them legal backing to require that employees take part in wellness programs, including vaccinations, or be penalized.
On the House Committee on Education and the Workforce website, (a committee chaired by Virginia Foxx), it’s noted that:
“Under H.R. 1313, employers will have the legal certainty they need to reward workers for making health lifestyle decisions. H.R. 1313 also reaffirms existing law that allows employers to provide responsible incentives for participation in employee wellness programs.“7
What is not pointed out, however, is that under H.R. 1313 employers could not only reward workers and provide incentives for participating in wellness programs — they could also impose surcharges and penalties.
Pediatrician Writes of ‘Snuffing Out the Anti-Vaccine Movement’
Scientific American recently posted an opinion piece written by Dr. Peter J. Hotez, director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development in Houston and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine.8
Hotez, a vaccine developer and president and director of the Sabin Vaccine Institute’s Product Development Partnership, has been described as a vaccine industry spokesperson.9
In the Scientific American article, he writes that “an American neo-antivaccine movement is underway” and predicts it will result in severe measles outbreaks and possibly “subvert global health.”
He also trashes the film Vaxxed, which has brought important questions about vaccine safety into the limelight, calling it “a faux documentary alleging a vast conspiracy and cover-up at the CDC.”
He even stoops to name-calling, by way of posting a 1902 invitation for membership by the Anti-Vaccination Society of America, which describes the organization as a group of “half-mad, misguided” people.10
Calls for Increased Vaccine Safety Should Be Encouraged, Not Criticized
The piece has ruffled many feathers, in part because of its inaccuracies. For instance, measles outbreaks can and do occur even in highly vaccinated populations.
Hotez’s opinion piece also struck a nerve with many because it seems to suggest that people who call for increased transparency and vaccine safety studies are dangerous.
In reality, however, it’s the refusal to conduct comprehensive vaccine safety studies that poses a risk to every man, woman and child who receives vaccines.