ACOEM Urges Congressional Leaders to Adopt Health and Productivity Initiative

During a June 1 Capitol hill briefing, leaders from the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) urged Congress to bolster and expand programs that promote prevention and improve the health of the nation’s work force.

The briefing is the latest effort in ACOEM’s Healthy Workforce Now initiative, which was launched last fall. Combining vigorous advocacy with policy makers, research on work force health and wellness and outreach and partnership with employers and employer organizations, the initiative seeks significant changes in federal policy designed to support health promotion and health protection and to create a healthier work force.

ACOEM’s advocacy agenda calls for health promotion and disease prevention programs to be required in employer-provided health plans. The agenda also calls for the implementation of work force health initiatives within federal agencies, and numerous other worker health-improvement incentives.

Studies indicate that the overall health of the American work force is on the decline, with a dramatic rise in recent years of chronic disease across all age groups. At the same time, the aging of the baby boomers – the so called “silver tsunami” – is changing the profile of the workplace and putting additional pressure on America’s overburdened and underfunded health care system.

“The balance between healthy workers, who are economic net contributors, and those dependent on government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, is undergoing a radical shift,” said ACOEM President Pamela Hymel, MD, MPH. “If a downward health trend continues in the work force, the nation will be unable to meet its obligations to its long-term health care programs. We must find a way to bolster and improve the health and productivity of our national workforce.”

“We are excited about this opportunity to take our message directly to Congress,” Hymel said. “We believe that health and wellness in the workplace is a vital part of overall health care reform and that action from the federal government is essential to make it happen.”

“The Nation’s occupational medicine physicians, who serve as an essential health care bridge between employers and employees, can provide a much-needed resource in moving a workforce health action plan forward,” she added.

As a part of its initiative, ACOEM convened last fall the first-ever national Workforce Health and Productivity Summit. To read consensus statements and recommendations from the Summit, and to learn more about ACOEM’s 7-point advocacy plan and its Healthy Workforce Now initiative, visit www.acoem.org.
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