Human Resources News & Insights

Bill allowing firms to ask for workers’ genetic info passes first hurdle

A new bill would give employers a lot more freedom with their wellness program requests — and essentially override the protections under GINA.  

The Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act (H.R. 1313) was just approved by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

If passed, the bill would allow employers to require employees to undergo genetic testing and share that info under a workplace wellness program.

At odds with GINA

Currently, employers are prohibited from requesting this type of info under GINA.

GINA, which was enacted in 2008 and took effect in 2009, prohibits employers from requesting, requiring or purchasing employees’ (and perspective employees’) genetic health information — a.k.a., family medical history. GINA also makes it illegal to discriminate against employees or applicants because of their family medical history.

The Committee that approved the bill said it would allow employers to offer wellness plans that promoted a healthy workforce and lowered costs. Employees, on the other hand, could face higher premiums for refusing genetic testing under the bill.

One thing the bill wouldn’t alter: The storage of employees’ confidential information. Under the bill, employers would still be required to meet federal and state regs regarding the storage of personal health info.

Part of the overall ACA repeal?

In addition to the Education and the Workforce committee, the Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committees are also considering the bill — and it’s expected to be included in the final replacement of the ACA.

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