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Crony bill could force you to hand over genetic information

genetic corn

Legislation quietly making its way through Congress would give companies the right to require employees to take genetic tests as a condition of employment under the guise of “workplace wellness.”

The bill, HR 1313, has quietly been moving in the House as lawmakers quarrel over the future of Obamacare. If signed into law, it would allow companies to force employees to take genetic tests and hand over the results or face hefty fines.

Currently, employees can’t be compelled to hand over genetic information thanks to federal laws which protect genetic privacy.

But under the legislation that passed through the House Committee on Education and the Workforce last week, those laws could be bypassed as long as employers gather the information under the guise of employee wellness programs. Those programs, which have become increasingly popular since Obamacare was passed, allow employers to coax employees to jump through all kinds of hoops in order to avoid losing money.

As STAT reported:

Employers got virtually everything they wanted for their workplace wellness programs during the Obama administration. The ACA allowed them to charge employees 30 percent, and possibly 50 percent, more for health insurance if they declined to participate in the “voluntary” programs, which typically include cholesterol and other screenings; health questionnaires that ask about personal habits, including plans to get pregnant; and sometimes weight loss and smoking cessation classes. And in rules that Obama’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued last year, a workplace wellness program counts as “voluntary” even if workers have to pay thousands of dollars more in premiums and deductibles if they don’t participate.

“What this bill would do is completely take away the protections of existing laws,” said Jennifer Mathis, director of policy and legal advocacy at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, told the outlet.


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