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house Bill H.R. 1313

Should Employers be Allowed to Ask Employees For Genetic Test Results, in Order to Incentivize Healthier Lifestyles?

Argument in favor

Employee wellness plans are a great way for employers to help their workers make informed, healthy decisions and voluntary genetic testing helps them do just that. Saving money on health insurance premiums is a great incentive.

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03/16/2017
The title and summary of this bill on the "Countable" app are not accurate and does not describe the actual bill's wording. I would like to encourage my representatives to check out the app to understand the misleading information being presented to their constituents that lead to a number of ill-informed responses about votes on this and many other bills. I support this bill. It does not allow employers access to healthcare records including genetic testing.
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Daedalon5's Opinion
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03/14/2017
The agreements between employers and their employees should be none of the government's business. It should be up to the employers what discounts and incentives they want to offer for whatever they want, and it should be up to the employees whether or not they want to do what will give them such benefits. The government should not interfere.
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Rob's Opinion
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03/19/2017
Hi everyone. This is a classic case of not all the facts being disclosed prior to asking for opinions on a bill. The way the description is written leads people to believe that employers will ask for and be able to see individual results all the genetic tests. This is simply not true. According to federal privacy laws employers cannot ask for or see the results of individual screening results or genetic testing results. Employers use wellness vendors who are authorized to conduct the tests and store the data according to federal guidelines such an HIPAA and GINA. The vendor provides aggregate data back to the employer but absolutely no individual or small group results. The test results will be used by the wellness vendor on behalf of the employer to give individual employees the results as well as insights into what specific actions they should take to manage their risk such as extra preventive care screenings if folks have elevated risk of cancer for example. All of these are typically married up with a genetic counseling service to help employees understand the results. A good genetic screening program will only disclose and focus on actionable results only. Also, many employers choose not to conduct genetic tests but simply ask for their wellness vendor to ask family history questions as part of an health risk assessment questionnaire. Family history of certain disease is actually high correlated with your disease risk. The wellness program can then better advise you on the best programs to help you manage risk. Here the data is handled the same way with a vendor and the results are only shared with the employer in aggregate. No individualized data is shared with the employer by law. Does that change anyone's opinion?
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Argument opposed

Employers shouldn’t be allowed to have access to their employees genetic information, even if it’s in the context of a voluntarily employee wellness program. The potential for discrimination is too great, and not worth potential savings.

Kayla's Opinion
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03/14/2017
This will allow companies to discriminate against those who decline the test or those who have "undesirable" DNA by requiring higher premiums or refusing insurance. Everyone deserves to have access to health insurance, regardless of their genetic profile.
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Walter's Opinion
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03/14/2017
Absolutely unbelievable that anyone would contemplate voting for this! This smacks of the eugenics movement of the early 20th century.
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Alan's Opinion
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03/15/2017
This is a chilling step and will clearly lead to discrimination. In the name of wellness, this will allow employers to discriminate, not on the existence of health issues, but on the potential. It will also invade employees' privacy in the most extreme way imaginable.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Education and Labor
      Committee on Energy and Commerce
      Health
      Committee on Ways and Means
      Health
    IntroducedMarch 2nd, 2017

What is House Bill H.R. 1313?

This bill would allow employers to require employees to undergo genetic testing as part of a voluntary employee wellness program, in which participating employees can receive discounts of between 30 and 50 percent on their employer-sponsored health insurance premiums. It would consider such testing as being in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), and other federal laws. Employees would be able to refuse to participate in genetic testing, but they wouldn’t have access to the health insurance discount or other rewards offered through the employee wellness program.

Employers would still be required to comply with the requirements of workplace wellness programs and state laws related to the storage of sensitive personal information. Under current law, employers are prohibited from collecting genetic information from their employees, and genetic information is only shared with healthcare professionals.

Impact

Employees who participate in a voluntary wellness program; employers; companies performing genetic testing; healthcare professionals; and federal and state regulators.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1313

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL) said that this bill will give employers the legal certainty they need to reward workers for making healthy lifestyle decisions, saying that “by empowering employers to adopt employee wellness programs, we can take a positive step toward lowering health care costs and promoting a healthy workforce.”

Byrne added that the bill “makes clear that if a wellness program complies with the non-discrimination standards in the Health insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), then the program will also meet the requirements for wellness program in the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.”

The American Society of Human Genetics sent the top lawmakers on the House Education and Workforce Committee a letter expressing its opposition to the bill. The ASHG said:

“If enacted, this legislation would undermine fundamentally the privacy provisions of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It would allow employers to ask employees invasive questions about their and their families’ health, as well as genetic tests they and their families have undergone. It would further allow employers to impose stiff financial penalties on employees who choose to keep such information private, thus empowering employers to coerce their employees into providing their health and genetic information.”

This legislation has the support three Republican cosponsors in the House, and passed the House Education and Workforce Committee on a party-line, 22-17 vote. It’s also being considered by two other House committees — Ways & Means and Energy & Commerce.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: snre via Flickr / Creative Commons)

AKA

Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act

Official Title

To clarify rules relating to nondiscriminatory workplace wellness programs.

    The title and summary of this bill on the "Countable" app are not accurate and does not describe the actual bill's wording. I would like to encourage my representatives to check out the app to understand the misleading information being presented to their constituents that lead to a number of ill-informed responses about votes on this and many other bills. I support this bill. It does not allow employers access to healthcare records including genetic testing.
    Like (8)
    Follow
    Share
    This will allow companies to discriminate against those who decline the test or those who have "undesirable" DNA by requiring higher premiums or refusing insurance. Everyone deserves to have access to health insurance, regardless of their genetic profile.
    Like (65)
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    Share
    Absolutely unbelievable that anyone would contemplate voting for this! This smacks of the eugenics movement of the early 20th century.
    Like (52)
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    This is a chilling step and will clearly lead to discrimination. In the name of wellness, this will allow employers to discriminate, not on the existence of health issues, but on the potential. It will also invade employees' privacy in the most extreme way imaginable.
    Like (32)
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    Absolutely not! They have right to privacy. This proposal is NOT voluntary. Employees would have 30% higher cost for their health insurance if they refuse genetic testing! That's criminal.
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    There should be no penalty for refusing to be genetically tested.
    Like (15)
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    Wellness vendors??? Let's cut out the middleman. My DNA and risk factors for disease are a VERY PRIVATE MATTER. I don't trust ANYBODY ELSE with that information, except my doctor and my immediate family! If you think that info won't be hacked or obtained in some other manner, you're living in a fool's paradise! It's bad enough that health insurance companies have so much access to our health data. No doubt Big Brother does, too. Nothing I've seen, read, heard, or experienced has changed my opinion that privacy has become nothing but an illusion. Still, I will fight like crazy to maintain as much semblance of privacy as I possibly can.
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    The idea that this will help anyone besides the employer is preposterous. The potential for abuse is huge.
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    This bill is a gross over-reach into the privacy of employees and opens to door to an enormous and unreasonable possibility of discrimination. While I understand that this bill is asking for the voluntary submission to this testing, it is inherently punishing those who are uncomfortable with the release of such information by denying them access to discounts. It also leads to a slippery slope to later allow health insurance companies to deny coverage to individuals for conditions they have not yet been symptomatic of, and could potentially never develop. I am continuously appalled by the direction our government has been going over the last few months!
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    This is an invasive new expression of "pre-existing condition" - now it is not merely a disease state but the potential for a disease state or the genetics to possibly have the potential for disease. If you value the privacy of your medical data and that of your children, this must be stopped in its tracks.
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    Genetics have nothing to do with lifestyle choices.
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    Invasion of our personal and undisclosed privacy. High-risk for discrimination, I don't see this being beneficial to anyone but the big private companies and big-money insurance businesses.
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    Genetic racism, here we come!
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    It’s bad enough that I face discrimination for healthy cannabis use. Don’t test my genes.
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    This bill would infringe on a person's privacy and allow discrimination based on the results of the testing. Some employers would exert pressure to have this testing done so it would not be voluntary. Genetic testing may show a tendency but that doesn't mean a person would become ill. This is a blatant insertion of government into people's private lives. I thought the Republicans wanted less government interference and more choice. This is just the opposite!
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    The agreements between employers and their employees should be none of the government's business. It should be up to the employers what discounts and incentives they want to offer for whatever they want, and it should be up to the employees whether or not they want to do what will give them such benefits. The government should not interfere.
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    Employers only need to worry about how we do our jobs. "Want a raise Larry, you need to stop (or start) eating ______". Or employers will require one to take a certain "medicine". Will be looking out for their own pocketbook not the health of their employee.
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    The idea of my employer knowing my genetic make-up is creepy. It smacks of invasion of privacy at the highest level. r
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    I am 100% against this bill! I am amazed to see that it is authored by Republicans. What ever happened to our rights to privacy? "Invasive" doesn't begin to cover it.
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    Neither Employers nor anyone connected to an employer should have this info.
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