By Miriam Raftery
March 22, 2017 (Washington D.C.) — A bill in Congress, HR 1313, would allow your employer to order you to under genetic testing and share results with the company. If you refuse, you could be fined up to $1,000 or made to pay 30% more for your health insurance.
The bill is called the Preserving Employer Wellness Programs Act. It purports to help employers give early notice to employees of serious genetic conditions through DNA testing. But opponents call it an unprecedented invasion of privacy.
Currently, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against you based on your DNA, under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. You can’t be fired, or charged more for health insurance if you are found to be predisposed to a genetic condition. The new proposed law violates the spirit of the existing protections and opens the door to workers losing jobs or being unable to afford health benefits.
Another problem is that genetic tests are not always accurate and the industry is largely unregulated. So, a company could fire workers it fears will develop disabling conditions that are costly to treat, even if a test later turns out to be wrong.
The organization “Demand Progress” has launched a petition asking members of Congress to oppose HR 1313. View or sign petition.