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200: Understanding the New EEOC Proposed Law with Barbara Zabawa, Owner of the Center for Health and Wellness Law, LLC

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Barbara Zabawa Headshot

In a meeting on June 11th, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) voted to move forward with a new initiative of proposed laws pertaining to wellness programs. The unofficial transcript of the meeting has many wellness professionals concerned that employee wellbeing is not at the forefront of the proposal. Today’s guest, Barbara Zabawa, owner of the Center for Health and Wellness Law, LLC, returns to dissect and explain the new proposal and what it might mean to employers.

Barbara is a Clinical Assistant Professor for the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee College of Health Sciences, Department of Health Services Administration in addition to owning a law firm dedicated to improving legal access and compliance for the health and wellness industries. She is an acclaimed author and speaker on health and wellness law topics, lending her expertise to notable wellness powerhouses such as WELCOA, the National Wellness Institute, and HERO.

In this episode, Barabara breaks down the construct of the hearing and the new proposed laws. She explains the meaning of the term “de minimis” used in the document and what kinds of incentives are allowed under the new proposal, as well as the privacy and confidentiality guidelines (or lack thereof) that it suggests. Lastly, Barbara discusses the process of submitting comments on the new proposal once it is made public, and the power of numbers in amplifying different voices.

This episode is sponsored by University of Wisconsin Health and Wellness Management, offering online bachelor’s and master’s degrees in wellness management. You can visit hwm.wisconsin.edu for more information. 

Graduates of the program have launched successful wellness careers with healthcare systems, wellness program vendors, community agencies, insurance providers, even the military. Here are some really cool things about UW Health and Wellness Management:

  • Courses are designed and taught by distinguished faculty from the University of Wisconsin, many of whom actively work in the field.
  • UW Health and Wellness Management is also supported by an advisory board, industry experts from corporations such as Children’s Wisconsin, Willis Towers Watson, and the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds, who offer advice on changing trends in health and wellness so that students are learning the most up-to-date methods.
  • Students often say the flexible, online format is a big factor in their ability to earn a degree. (Our recent situation is an indication of the advantages of online learning.) Although the program is online, you’ll make strong connections with peers and faculty, just as you would on campus.

UW Health and Wellness Management bachelor’s and master’s degrees provide the skills you need to manage comprehensive employee well-being programs that foster healthier lifestyles and promote the value of staying well. 

Turn your passion for wellness into a healthy career with University of Wisconsin Health and Wellness Management. Visit hwm.wisconsin.edu or contact an enrollment adviser by phone, 1-877-895-3276.

Interview Highlights (with timestamps):
  • [6:40] The EEOC hearing and new proposed rules
  • [12:28] Meaning of de minimis and what incentives are allowed under the proposed rule
  • [21:36] Privacy and confidentiality
  • [27:19] Submitting comments
  • [31:18] Barbara’s final thoughts
Mentioned in this episode:
Full Bio:

Barbara J. Zabawa is a Clinical Assistant Professor for the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee College of Health Sciences, Department of Health Services Administration where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in health law and compliance, US health care delivery and health professions career development. Barbara also owns the Center for Health and Wellness Law, LLC a law firm dedicated to improving legal access and compliance for the health and wellness industries. 

Barbara is lead author of the book Rule the Rules on Workplace Wellness Programs, published by the American Bar Association. She is a frequent writer and speaker on health and wellness law topics, having presented for national organizations such as WELCOA, National Wellness Institute, HPLive, Healthstat University and HERO.

Before graduating with honors from the University of Wisconsin Law School, she obtained an MPH degree from the University of Michigan. Immediately prior to starting her own firm, she was Associate General Counsel and HIPAA Privacy Officer for a large health insurer where she advised on Affordable Care Act matters. She was also a shareholder and Health Law Team Leader at a large Wisconsin law firm.

Barbara serves health and wellness professionals and organizations across the country as an advocate, a transactional lawyer and a compliance resource. Her commitment to improving health and wellness also shows through her community service. Barbara sits on the Board of Directors for Health Promotion Advocates, a national nonprofit organization created to integrate health promotion into the national agenda. She also is a Board Member for the Rogers Memorial Hospital Foundation, a health care organization that specializes in treating mental illness and she chairs the State Bar of Wisconsin Health Law Section.

Barbara is licensed to practice law in both Wisconsin and New York.

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