A new bill has been introduced in Congress that may put your genetic information at risk. House Resolution 1313 seeks to allow employers to provide incentives for participating in genetic testing as part of a work-place wellness program. The bill would also allow employers to implement a fine of up to 30 percent of premium costs for those who opted not to participate in these genetic tests.
Currently it is illegal for an employer to force employees to participate in these genetic screening tests due to provisions in the Americans with Disabilities Acts as well as the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act.
The measure was pushed through the House Committee on Education and Workforce. It was passed along party lines with all 22 Republicans supporting the bill and all 17 Democrats opposed. The bill faces several more committees and Senate approval before becoming a law.
In my estimation, that is far from likely.
Only having moved past one House committee, the bill is already facing stiff opposition. Over 70 organizations signed a letter to Congress opposing the new measure. These organizations include Susan G. Komen, AARP, the National Women’s Law Center, March of Dimes, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
My problem with the bill is that it would allow companies to force their employees into sharing their genetic information. What could be more private and personal that your genetic makeup?
Some proponents of the law have argued that employees do have a choice, they can opt to pay the fine.
For most Americans, that is hardly a choice at all. When faced with a 30 percent increase in premiums, even I would be forced to choose to share my genetic information, despite my objections. A choice that is forced, is no choice at all.
Even if the law only allowed for incentives for employees that shared their genetic information, I would still be weary. That information could be used against you any number of ways. All of that data collected and stored makes me uneasy. Insurance companies would likely only use the information against you, even if they gave another reason for your treatment.
All in all, I can not see this going well. As I have urged many times before, when you take issue with something that Congress is doing or considering, please reach out to them! You can find out who represents you by visiting whoismyrepresentative.com.