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How you'll lose coverage with Trumpcare & HR 1313

This federal bill would allow your employer to research genetic family history, and fire you for getting sick or pregnant

Kris LaGrange's picture
Mar 10, 2017

There is this bill that is getting very little publicity. It was passed and approved by a Congressional House Committee on Wednesday that would allow your employer to genetically test you to determine if you should qualify for employer based health insurance.

As the battle over “Trumpcare” heats up, this bill could be a major roadblock to millions of Americans keeping their health insurance.  The bill, known as HR 1313 would repeal a 2008 law that granted people genetic privacy. HR 1313 seeks to circumvent the law, known as GINA, by saying that it doesn’t apply to workplace wellness programs.  The legislation, which was introduced by Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, a well-known enemy to organized labor, would allow company wellness programs to collect genetic information on their employees which would indicate future or family health issues.  If an employee doesn’t consent to a genetic test, the employer would be allowed to fine the employee.  HR 1313 “Would undermine fundamentally the privacy provisions of those laws,” said Nancy Cox, president of the American Society of Human Genetics, in a letter to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce the day before the bill was approved. “It would impose stiff financial penalties on employees who choose to keep such information private, thus empowering employers to coerce their employees.”

Not only is this tactic a major attack on individual privacy, but it also will have dire consequences.  As Republicans seek to destroy the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and replace it with what AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka warns is a plan that will deny millions of Americans the benefits they need to take care of themselves; Republicans are gutting important provisions of the ACA that guarantee Americans the right to health quality health insurance.

Conservative analyst Christopher Jacobs, thinks “Trumpcare” will cause 10-20 million people to lose their employer based health insurance.  If HR 1313 passes companies will have medical information on who will be the most expensive to insure over the next few years. Employers will be more likely to kick these people off their insurance plans.  Since these employees will now be deemed high risk, buying insurance on the health exchange, or whatever systems Trump establishes, will be more expensive and there will be fewer tax credits to help lower the cost.

 HR 1313 also would give employers an advantage in making hiring and firing decisions.  If a woman has a family history of difficult pregnancies, the company could decide that instead of losing the employee for months while they are on bed rest and covered under a Family Leave policy, they could instead fire her before she gets pregnant.  Similarly, if a male employee has had a family history of pancreatic cancer in their 50’s, a company could fire the employee at 49 to prevent having to pay that worker while he is sick.

Since companies often use third party vendors to collect this information, the largest stockpile of genetic information will be held by a few private companies.  According to STAT.com, these companies are largely unregulated and often sell the data to other companies so that they can market products to consumers.

Along with the repeal of the ACA and the flawed “Trumpcare,” HR 1313 brings us back to a time where companies seek to remove sick people from their insurance and have little regard for employees’ privacy. Without a collective bargaining agreement in place and a union to fight for your privacy rights, these laws bring back the days of discriminating against workers due to their private health conditions. Click here to call your Congressmen and Senators today and tell them to oppose HR 1313. Your health and your life depend on it.

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