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Genetic Testing by Employers Under the Proposed GOP Healthcare Bill. Fact or Fiction?

Separating fact from fiction these days is often difficult to do. Especially, when it concerns the newly proposed GOP healthcare replacement to Obamacare and the possibility of genetic testing?

Buried in the new GOP healthcare plan, is H.R. 1313 which is being ignored by many, but should it be?

The bill was introduced by Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., the chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

Reportedly, the bill would allow companies to require their employees to submit to genetic testing or face possible penalties of thousands of dollars. In addition, the information gathered would be given the employer.

You read that correctly. The employer would receive your personal genetic and other health-related information.

Why would employers want this information? Well, all in the name of “workplace wellness” and lowering insurance costs, of course.

Former President George W. Bush signed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) into law in 2008.

The law prevented discrimination by health insurers and employers who would otherwise treat employees unfairly due to differences in their DNA. These differences were seen as unfavorable since they could impact an employee’s health and increase insurance costs.

Civil Rights groups and others concerned with privacy are concerned that the new H.R. 1313 would remove the protections established by GINA.

Jennifer Mathis, director of policy and legal advocacy at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, a civil rights group says:

“What this bill would do is completely take away the protections of existing laws.”

In particular, privacy and other protections for genetic and health information in GINA and the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act “would be pretty much eviscerated.”

Nancy J. Cox, PhD, the president of the American Society of Human Genetics, said in a statement:

“We urge the Committee not to move forward with consideration of this bill. As longtime advocates of genetic privacy, we instead encourage the Committee to pursue ways to foster workplace wellness and employee health without infringing upon the civil rights afforded by ADA and GINA.”

Tests given under the law if enacted, would include information about an individual’s genetic tests and those of their family members as well as private information about diseases of the individual and those of their family.

Typically, information of this nature is discussed with a patient’s doctor, if at all, but certainly not an employer.

The bill sounds like something straight out of Agenda 21 or 2030Agenda. It’s a bill that at first glance would certainly seem like it was from the progressive far-left but it is favored by Congressional Republicans.

Seemingly siding with Republicans who favor the bill, Snopes.com, the left-leaning, “know-it-all” website claims:

“HR 1313 does not allow employers to force all their workers to submit to genetic testing.”

Snopes further claims that they received confirmation of this from a spokesman for the committee who told them the following by email:

“If a worker chooses to voluntarily participate in an employee wellness program, they would then typically participate in a health risk assessment. This has long been the case for employee wellness programs, including employee wellness programs promoted by the Affordable Care Act, and it would continue to be true for employee wellness programs under H.R. 1313.”

A spokeswoman for the House committee told The Times that “the legislation will reaffirm existing law and provide regulatory clarity so that employers can have the certainty they need to help lower health care costs for their employees.”

It’s easy to understand why many are becoming concerned with the possibility of the bill being included in the new GOP healthcare proposal because of conflicting statements about what the bill will actually requires from the employee, the possible penalties attached for refusing the genetic testing and privacy concerns involving the employer.

As of Wednesday, the bill was approved by a House committee, with all 22 Republicans supporting it and all 17 Democrats opposing it.

 

 

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