Workers Would Be Forced To Get Genetic Tests in the Name of Wellness Under Proposed Law

A bill approved by the House this week would eliminate federal health privacy protections under the Americans With Disabilities Act and the 2008 Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), the Washington Post reports.

Under GINA, a company cannot discriminate against employees based on what data can be collected from genes. But GINA includes an exception that allows employees to volunteer that information under non-mandatory wellness programs. There can’t be incentives for participation or punishment for not participating.

But the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act, HR 1313, would allow employers to impose penalties of up to 30% of the total cost of the employee’s health insurance on those who want to keep their data private, the Post reports.

Al Lewis, a longtime critic of wellness programs, was quick to denounce the bill. “In addition to being an Orwellian intrusion into employees’ private lives as many others have pointed out, mass genetic screening has proven to be completely ineffective as part of wellness programs, at either improving health or saving money,” Lewis said in a statement. “In addition, it is very expensive and unreliable.”

Lewis, the CEO of Quizzify, an employee health care education company, added that he’s especially concerned about the part of the law that says dependents, including children, may be genetically screened as well.

Source: Washington Post