What We're Reading: Quitting Cigarettes; "Voluntary" Workplace Wellness; Making the ACA More Conservative

Linking Cigarette Price and Rates of Quitting Smoking

Increasing the price of cigarette packs by just $1 is tied to a 20% increase in the rate of people who quit smoking. According to The New York Times, the price increase even led to a reduction in the average number of cigarettes smoked by heavy smokers. A price increase could have a substantial impact on older people who have smoked longer and are usually more difficult to motivate to quit.

Ruling on “Voluntary” Workplace Wellness Programs

A group that brought a lawsuit against voluntary workplace wellness programs that impose penalties for workers who opt out were victorious in court. A federal court rules those types of programs cannot be called “voluntary,” reported STAT. However, for now, the rules will stay in place since unwinding the penalties and incentives would be disruptive—employees may not be able to pay back incentives they received and employers may or may not be able to pay back penalties they collected from workers.

Red States Use Waivers to Change ACA

Although Congress did not pass a healthcare bill to overhaul the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Republican-led states have found they can take matters into their own hands. Using waivers, red states are making the ACA more conservative, according to Vox. Iowa is a perfect example. The state wants to standardize benefits for plans; transition to a flat dollar subsidy based on income and age; eliminate cost-sharing reductions; and create a reinsurance program for insurers covering high-cost enrollees. Oklahoma is also preparing its own waiver proposal.

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