GREENSBORO, N.C. - Genetic testing is one of the latest trends in your doctor's office. You roll up your sleeves and they take some blood or your saliva and run your DNA to see if you have certain genes that make you more likely to develop certain illnesses like cancer. Right now employers can't even ask to see your genetic test results, but U.S. Representative Virginia Foxx is sponsoring a bill which would let them learn this intimate information about you.
It would be part of what's called Employee Wellness Programs. These programs offer you a price break in your premiums in exchange for doing things like getting a physical, joining a gym, and now, if Foxx's bill passes, getting your genetic testing done and sharing it with your employer.
A spokesperson for Virginia Foxx said she was too busy for an interview, but she sent over a Q&A about the bill. The bill "does not allow employers to force all their workers to submit to genetic testing." It's "completely voluntary." The folks at Disability Rights North Carolina have concerns according to public policy director Corye Dunn.
"Voluntary in the workplace is loaded, people want to please their employers,” Dunn said. "If employers are incentivizing people to participate than it might reflect poorly on an employee's commitment to the company if they fail to participate."
Right now the Affordable Care Act allows these genetic testing wellness programs, but the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission does not. Foxx's bill would make it so the EEOC would accept genetic testing in the workplace for these voluntary employee wellness programs.
The bill has passed through committee, but it’s not clear what will happen with all the uncertainty in Washington about repealing healthcare reform.
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