Want a job AND privacy? Congress is on the verge of making us choose one or the other, as it paves the way for employers to access both our private medical history and our genetic information. Action Alert!
Recently, a House committee approved a bill that would give employers more power to probe into their employees’ medical and genetic information. The bill increases the risk that employers could discriminate against employees based on their genetic makeup and their risk of disease.
HR 1313, the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act, undermines protections that consumers won under two earlier laws, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Here’s how the new bill works: Obamacare incentivized the growth of workplace wellness programs, which typically involved the collection of certain medical data on employees who opt-in to the program. In exchange for their participation in these programs, employees received sizeable discounts on their insurance premiums—in some cases up to 50%.
This new bill significantly expands the information that employers can demand from their employees to take part in wellness programs and receive the insurance discounts.
- Under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), employers can access only anonymous, aggregate data about their employees’ health. This new bill allows companies to ask for workers’ personal information—including the results of genetic tests.
- GINA also stipulated that wellness programs could not ask about an employee’s family medical history. The new bill does away with that restriction for those who opt-in to workplace wellness programs.
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) says employers can’t ask their employees to undergo a medical history or certain medical examinations unless that request is made through a voluntary wellness program. With the proliferation of workplace wellness programs following Obamacare, there was debate as to the legality of the collection of this data, but the new bill essentially bars legal challenges to this.
The new bill also does not explicitly rule out the application of these rules to employment candidates, nor does it provide protections for currently employed individuals who could see their careers stalled or terminated based on these results—or based on their refusal to provide their employers with the information.
Of additional concern, as our friends at the National Vaccine Information Center have pointed out, is that this bill could coerce employees in wellness programs to be vaccinated in order to receive the insurance discounts—or, ultimately, to keep their jobs.
A vaccination requirement could start with the flu shot, which contains unnecessary and dangerous ingredients such as aluminum and mercury as adjuvants. The flu vaccine is limited and unpredictable in its effectiveness, and the adjuvants may be linked to Alzheimer’s. Hospital workers are already required to get this vaccination. Before long, all employers could require it as a condition for cheaper insurance—or even for keeping your job. This is a slippery slope we don’t want to go down.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) was presented as something that would keep medical records private. It was a gross deception in that it allowed your records to be accessed by as many as 800,000 different parties. At least it did not include your employer among those with access! This new bill is yet another instance of government selling out private citizens to benefit large corporations. We must stop it in its tracks!
Action Alert! Write to your senators and representatives and tell them to oppose HR 1313. Please send your message immediately.
Other articles in this week’s Pulse of Natural Health: