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U.S. CEOs threaten to 'turn up the noise' over ObamaCare workplace wellness lawsuits

Calling recent lawsuits filed by the Obama administration's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission a "major issue," a group of U.S. chief executives representing more than 200 corporations are threatening to pull their support for ObamaCare, Reuters reports.

"We never did this before," said one person familiar with the issue. "But they could turn up the noise."

At the center of the argument is a "workplace wellness" provision, which allows companies to lower healthcare costs by rewarding workers who sign up for programs aimed at reducing smoking, obesity, and other issues that can increase healthcare costs. The provision also allows corporations to penalize employees who do not take part.

But the EEOC has brought lawsuits against several companies arguing that the detailed health questionnaires and medical screenings that employees must fill out to participate in the wellness programs undermine the Americans with Disabilities Act. And, because not participating can cost employees as much as $4,000 in penalties, the EEOC argues that the programs are not actually voluntary. What is unclear is whether the White House — which created the healthcare reform law and included the wellness provision — is even able to stop the EEOC from challenging the programs.

"(Companies) don't understand why a plan in compliance with the ACA is the target of a lawsuit," Maria Ghazal, vice president of the Business Roundtable group, said.