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A little-noticed bill moving through Congress would allow companies to require employees to undergo genetic testing or risk paying a penalty of thousands of dollars, and would let employers see that genetic and other health information.

Giving employers such power is now prohibited by legislation including the 2008 genetic privacy and nondiscrimination law known as GINA. The new bill gets around that landmark law by stating explicitly that GINA and other protections do not apply when genetic tests are part of a “workplace wellness” program.

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  • This from the party who professes to believe in smaller less intrusive government? There is no benefit to be had by the employee for this measure. It’s a way to justify discrimination by genetic marker. Your DNA will become part of a database that can then be sold or given away or hacked, destroying you most essential privacy. Anyone who votes for this should be hounded out of office as soon as possible. There are so many ways this can be abused that it should terrify any rational human being.

    • Dilys Daraheart stated, “There is no benefit to be had by the employee for this (wellness, proactive medical treatment) measure.”

      The benefit to be had is a healthier citizen, and an overall healthier USA.

  • this is just another confirmation that Amerika has become a police state reminiscent of all the others and particularly of nazi Germany.

    • patrick anderson…
      You are free to leave the USA anytime you want if you believe you are being oppressed.

  • Privacy means nothing anymore, I guess. Your private life is no ones business. Leave it alone, quit digging into things that is none of your business.

    • Patsy Napier…
      As I explained to Sharon Begley, the author of this article, the submission of genetic information is VOLUNTARY. You have the right to refuse.

  • What is the bill number? How can I read and track it or contact its sponsor and supporters?

  • Republicans, Insurance, and big business are in bed together. For the almighty dollar and to get employees to fork over more money. Just another way to give up more of our freedoms. Sorry state in American politics today. Huge mistake letting Republicans make rules so they can enrich themselves.
    Just do away with health care and let everyone die. Isn’t that really what they want?

    • David,
      Did you not read the part about the wellness programs starting under Obama? I’m sure they did it just as the lobbyists wanted, and Democrats all voted yes and Republicans no, but now Republicans are in majority so the lobbyists go at them, they write this provision and the voting is reversed.
      Anyway, you can thank Obama for opening that door.

  • Sharon Begley wrote to me:

    “Thanks very much, Mr. Behrens. Can you help me word a correction so I can send it to the editors asap? Just to recap, HR 1313 was introduced by a Republican and cleared the committee on a 22-17 (22 Republicans, 17 Dems) vote.” 
    Elections have consequences.

    “And let me correct a few of your misconceptions. The ACA does NOT allow the collection or use by employers of individual genetic information.” 
    There is nothing in the document which prevents the insured subject from VOLUNTARILY submitting genetic, or any other diagnostic information, from the insurance carrier in order to obtain a reduction in regular medical insurance premiums.  This submission is VOLUNTARY.  The false assertion in your article is that the regular insurance premium includes the submission of all diagnostic information, and that a PENALTY is incurred if it is NOT submitted. A REDUCTION in regular premium is offered for a full VOLUNTARY diagnostic information submission; a PENALTY is NOT assessed. This is NOT simply a matter of semantics.

    “And it is not clear to me how your taxes are going to employer-sponsored health insurance, which is what workplace wellness programs are about (i.e. not Medicaid, not Medicare–only the private, employer-based market”
    My tax money will be commingled in any premium payment by the government for indigent, insured clients of the ACA, Medicare, Medicaid or perhaps (because the full parameters of the Trump health plan are not yet known) any employer based health plan.  Full diagnostic information, including genetic, should be included to reduce that premium payment using my tax money as a subsidy. I do not suggest that those clients paying for medical insurance premiums themselves, without using my tax money as a government subsidy, and NOT wanting to apply for a  reduction in that premium by VOLUNTARILY submission of full diagnostic information, be required to do so.  The key word here is VOLUNTARILY. 

    I personally have NO objection to the use of my genetic information in the diagnoses of any medical condition I have or may have in the future.  Medical professionals need all the information possible for accurate treatment.

    • Mr. Behrens, I’m not sure what your agenda is but you are completely wrong about these programs being voluntary. If an employer switches to a high-deductible plan that costs you $1000 more, and says the only way you can earn the $1000 back is by giving up your DNA, that is NOT voluntary. Using that definition, just about anything is voluntary. Quite the opposite, you are forced to choose between losing money and doing something totally pointless. (DNA doesn’t help diagnose heart disease or diabetes.)

    • Al Lewis stated that the submission of genetic information to an employer medical insurance company is NOT VOLUNTARY.

      It certainly is VOLUNTARY. So is working for any particular employer that you think is coercing genetic information from you. Your desire to lessen your medical insurance premium seems to be more important to you than maintaining a false sense of privacy. You have to make a decision!!

      Homo sapiens are, and have always been, social creatures. Absolute privacy is only possible if you make the move away from other H. sapiens, perhaps living in a cave to prevent aerial observation.

  • In case you haven’t been paying attention to the news and proposed changes in health coverage, a recurrent theme is to “Classify” Americans into different categories based on age, gender, medical history and charge different premiums for each class. More for older Americans because they get sick more often. More for women because they have babies. Less for healthy, young people. Basically back to the old system of denial of pre existing conditions re worded. More health risk, the more you pay. You will have access IF you can afford to pay the premiums. That is not “access”. This legislation will determine your risk category based on your DNA profile. Gene markers for diabetes, heart disease, breast cancer and many, many others will make you pay MORE for you health care.

    • To summarize the real intent of the program look no further than Marx: “From each according to his ability; to each according to his needs”. Genetic testing would help to sort those things out in order to establish your value as human capital. Those with the greatest value to the corporation will be retained. Those with the least value will join Marx’s “Industrial Reserve Army of the Unemployed”.

  • This is the next logical step in our fast-developing, fascist Surveillance Police State. It goes along with destroying our privacy and 4th Amendment rights, and telling women how they can and cannot care for their own bodies.

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