In Washington, DC, Congress is moving forward on a bill, HR 1313 or the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act, which just passed in the Republican-controlled House, that would allow employers access to employees genetic testing and medical records as part of a workplace wellness program. If employees refuse to allow access to their medical records or genetic testing, they could be forced to pay hefty fines. HR 1313 would reverse the 2008 Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act which ensured employers couldn’t discriminate against their employees based on their medical history.
Medical ethicists are concerned about this bill as it could open up discrimination of employees who have genetic markers showing they are more likely to develop medical issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, cancers, or other illnesses. Employers want to lower their health insurance risks and costs and this could cause them to not hire or keep employees on board who could potentially bring up their company wide health insurance costs.