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New bill proposes Employers can require genetic testing as part of wellness program

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  • New bill proposes Employers can require genetic testing as part of wellness program

    EYES WIDE OPEN ---EARS SHUT ....I don't know about you all, but I'm sick of politics, I am sick of hearing about law makers. Our country's serious problems, health care costs and administration...blah blah blah, I'm sick already, I don't need all this extra stress, I've just shut out a lot of the noise.

    BUT in the drone of congress this week, a bill has started its journey to becoming law... The bill will in essence allow employers to require genetic testing as part of a wellness program.
    Yesterday, March 10th, CNBC reporter Dan Mangan reported, a new

    "bill, ....if passed into law, would make it clear that employers who offered wellness programs, and require genetic testing as part of them, can legally charge workers who refuse the tests a higher price for health insurance than workers who accept the test." This is because " The Affordable Care Act allows employers to charge workers at least 30 percent, and up to 50 percent, more for job-based health insurance if employees choose not to participate in a wellness program..... In particular, privacy and other protections for genetic and health information in [the law] and the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act 'would be pretty much eviscerated'” .

    Link to CNBC article

    Whoa, what, really??? So I found the March 7, 2017, letter to members of the House from Nancy Cox, the President of the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG). The letter states:

    "[We wish] to communicate ... opposition to H.R.1313, the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act. 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."

    Link to ASHG Letter

    Holy cow. It boggles my mind to think about the consequences of such a genetic testing law to those living with MS but are still working or are seeking reemployment.

  • #2
    No way!

    Supposedly, you can refuse. Unless of course you want to keep your job!

    I would refuse. Retired now so it's not a big issue personally, but just wait, as it won't be long before the government mandates that all citizens provide a DNA sample.

    I was shocked to find after surviving cancer a couple of years ago, that Florida required all of my personal information and medical records be available on a state database, accessible to any researcher who wanted to follow up on my case. Trust me, if they call, they'll get hung up on. If they write, it'll go right into the paper shredder!
    Retired engineer, now hobby farmer with goats, chickens, an old dog,and a lazy barn cat!
    Watch my goats at
    Active in amateur radio
    Linux geek, blogging at
    M.S. since 2000


    • #3
      Gene/ biomarkers benefit MS patients & the pockets of insurers???

      There are 159 gene variations associated with MS and that researchers are working on assessing the risk of a specific person of developing MS [in order to give best treatment to prevent development of MS]. Yay, that is so exciting and well, awesome.

      (see link

      What irks me most here is that insurers and employers would like to use this type of great science (identifying people who will develop MS and preventing it) and use it in a way that will not benefit the MS patient.

      There are also very promising blood based biomarkers which researchers are studying to learn how to detect MS in early stages to best manage it. Again, awesome, awesome, awesome discovery.

      (see link

      What surprise private insurance forces want to use it to assess everyone's personal risk and price of a health premium?!?!? That's what this proposed bill is about, reducing costs of health care to the employer and insurer.

      So yah, Goatherder, under the proposed bill, one can refuse the gene testing as part of the employer wellness program, which is my first inclination too, but your employer can then charge you an additional 50% for your health insurance, not to mention "label" you a non-compliant, non-team player, etc...

      So, I ask myself, HOW exactly are insurers and employers hoping to use these awesome types of science breakthroughs, like MS gene & biomarkers, to lower their costs? How exactly does it benefit the MS patient? And what if your employer finds out you have MS before you do????