Healthier lifestyle required for hospital workers

Posted by Rachel Leigh - email

WHEELING, WV (WFLX) - Hospital workers across America may have to maintain a healthier lifestyle mandated by the federal government as part of health care reform.

Interim President and CEO Jan Jennings received a phone call from a friend who's on the Commission for Health Care Reform informing him of the new mandate. Jennings decided to warn employees of Ohio Valley Medical Center that commissioners of the health care reform bill are considering a possible height and weight guideline. "Our employees have been demanding information, so I wanted them to know there is potential that the hospital's reimbursement could be adversely affected."

Jennings sent a letter to his hospital staff explaining the possible proposal. The proposal states:

"Hospitals will be denied Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, in whole or in part, if more than five percent of hospital employees are 25 percent heavier than the generally accepted height and weight guidelines."

The proposal goes on to explain that the purpose of health care reform is to promote a healthier lifestyle for hospital employees and patients. And, in fairness, to all hospital personnel concerned, there would be a three year phase in of this rule when adopted and published to the federal register.

"I also made very clear this is a very personal issue -- that whatever they did with the information was entirely on their own. It's not a threat. We don't know if the regulation is going to pass, but it's 2010, and it would go into effect in 2014," said Jennings.

Along with the letter, Jennings attached the height and weight guidelines required for both men and women. For example, if you're a woman whose 5'10 and have a medium sized frame, you should weigh between 142 to 156 pounds. "Obesity is directly related to Type Two Diabetes. Type Two Diabetes is directly linked to heart disease [and] some forms of cancer."

In order to prevent such problems, Jennings stresses that hospital employees take advantage of the wellness programs OVMC and East Ohio Regional Hospital are offering so to battle excess weight.

"I think living healthier, happier lifestyles is a great idea, and, I think, some sort of incentive to lead a healthier, happier life is a good idea."

Health care reform commissioners are only considering this proposal. Jennings says all voluntary not-for-profit hospitals across the U.S. would be affected.

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