Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act

My choice topic for the benefits legislation paper is Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 also referred to as GINA. This new federal law will protect society from being treated unfairly because of the differences in their DNA that may affect their health. Genetic discrimination is the misuse of genetic information.

Genetic information as defined by GINA including the following: An person’s genetic tests or the genetic tests of the individual’s family members, and the manifestation of a disease or disorder in the individual’s family members, Genetic information also includes the request or receipt of genetic services or participation in clinical research that includes genetic services, for both the individual and the individual’s family members (www. eeoc. gov). This Act of Congress in the United States is intended to prohibit the use of genetic information in health insurance and employment.

This act is to protect employees either current or former and job applicants, union members, and trainees from discrimination based on genetic information collected and tested with results. The GINA Act of 2008 became effective May 21, 2008 and was enacted by the 110th United States Congress. (Mustachio, J. J. ) This Act prohibits group health plans from denying coverage to a healthy individual or charging that person with higher payments based solely on genetic inclination to developing a disease in the future.

During her speech, The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act: A New Way for Health Care: Louise Slaughter the sponsor of the law, a Democratic member of the U. S. House of Representatives remarks to the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Science Policy Group and the Biomedical Graduate Student Organization in 2007 stated “We have laws to protect us from discrimination based on race, gender, and host of other intrinsic characteristics.

We desperately needed to enact similar law to protect against genetic discrimination not only to ensure that the tremendous potential of genetic testing and research could be realized but because it was the right thing to do. ” (Slaughter L. 2010) Rep. Louis Slaughter introduced this Act to the House of Representative on January 16, 2007, the three committee’s consideration came from House Education and Labor, House Energy and Commerce and House Ways and Means.

This Act passed the House of Representation on April 25, 2007 and then the Senate on April 24, 2008 with an amendment, then the House of Representation agreed to Senate’s amendment on May 1, 2008 and the Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush on May 21, 2008. In this year’s addition, on May 17, 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) amended various GINA regulations providing further clarification on acceptable workplace wellness programs. The new guidelines were effective on July 16, 2016.

The new amendment requires that the programs be voluntary, employers cannot deny health care coverage for not participating, or take adverse employment actions against or coerce employees who do not take part in the wellness programs. The new GINA regulations cover the spouse and dependents in participation also. Also the employer may not ask the employee or their dependents to agree to permit the sale of their genetic information in exchange for participation in wellness programs. (Wikipedia)

There are acts amended because of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, Public Health Service Act, Internal Revenue Code of 1986, Social Security Act of 1965 and Fair Labor Standards Act to include the genetic information as coverage. The United States Code (U. S. C. ) has had to amend two titles because of GINA, Title 29 and Title 42. U. S. C. Title 29- Labor has the following, Chapter 8-Fair Labor Standards section 216(e), Chapter 18-Employee Retirement Income Security Program section 1132, section 1182, section 1182(b) and section 1191b(d).

Title 42 has the following, Chapter 6A-Public Health Service Subchapter XXV-Requirements Relating to Health Insurance Coverage 300gg Part A- Individual and Group Market Reforms subpart 1- general reform and subpart 2-exclusion of plans; enforcement; preemption section 21 and 22, 300gg Part B-Individual Market Rules subpart 2-other requirement section 51, subpart 3- general provisions section 61(b) and 300gg Part C- Definitions; Miscellaneous Provisions section 91. U. S. C. Title 42 Chapter 7-Social Security subchapter XVIII Health Insurance for Aged and Disabled Part E-Miscellaneous Provisions section 1395ss, 1395ss(o) and 1395ss(s)(2). (www. law. cornell. edu)

According to the article in the New York Times, June 2, 2015 there was an incident at a warehouse outside Atlanta where an individual was leaving feces around the facility. Management then pulled in two men and ask for the men permission to swab to gain DNA for testing, the two men feared for their jobs agreed.

The work spread quickly and two men became the ongoing joke, however to two were cleared-their DNA was not a match. The men sued the company, on May 5 the judge ruled in their favor and sent the case to be heard by jury. It took over two years for this case to be settled however it was settled in favor of the two men with damages determined later. Judge Totenberg said that the law defined genetic information as data arising from a genetic test. The DNA test used in this case, she ruled, qualified as a genetic test that revealed genetic information. (Kolata, Gina. Strange Violation of a Genetics Law. “)

The genetic law is different from other antidiscrimination laws that say an employer cannot hire, fire or fail to promote based on things such as race, sex or a disability. GINA says an employer cannot even ask for or buy genetic information from its employees. For Human Resource representatives the GINA clearly states for regulations for genetic information. The need for a genetic test is very limited to the health care professionals and tests for drugs must not be a DNA establish test it must only test for illegal drugs.

My recommendation for GINA is to establish testing with a trustworthy health facility if drug testing is to be done. Have in writing what is being tested and what is not so the employee is aware what is occurring with their sample. Have in writing what the current health care insurance can and cannot require from the employee and do business with an established insurer. Have in writing whether the insurer will cover elective genetic testing and if the employee chooses to have done, that information will not be shared with the employer.