President Trump’s top health official suggested that there would be “significant concerns” with a House bill that would allow companies to require employees to undergo genetic testing, but said the administration had not yet examined the issue.
Tom Price, the secretary of Health and Human Services, was asked about the bill on NBC’s “Meet the Press” over the weekend.
“I’m not familiar with the bill, but it sounds like there would be some significant concerns about it,” Price said. “If the department’s asked to evaluate it, or if it’s coming through the department, we’ll be glad to take a look at it.”
The bill, HR 1313, would also allow employers to see their employees’ genetic information and impose financial penalties on employees who wanted to opt out.
A House committee approved the measure last week on a party-line vote, with all 22 Republicans supporting it and all 17 Democrats opposed. That panel, the Committee on Education and the Workforce, said the legislation would “provide employers the legal certainty they need to offer employee wellness plans, helping to promote a healthy workforce and lower health care costs.”
The bill’s sponsor was the chairwoman of the committee, Representative Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.).
“Those who are opposed to the bill are spreading false information in a desperate attempt to deny employees the choice to participate in a voluntary program that can reduce health insurance costs and encourage healthy lifestyle choices,” said a committee spokeswoman, Bethany Aronhalt.
Critics of the bill — which include AARP, various medical and privacy groups, and the American Society of Human Genetics — have warned that the bill would eliminate genetic privacy policies established by the Americans with Disabilities Act and a law known as GINA.
GINA prohibited employers from having the powers HR 1313 would allow, but the bill scoots around GINA by incorporating genetic tests as part of “workplace wellness” programs.
Employer groups have said HR 1313 would align rules about genetic information with laws about workplace wellness programs.
This story was updated with comment from the committee.