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Wellness Program Rules Issued: Blows to the protections afforded by GINA

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Genetic Alliance is dismayed by the rules issued today by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) governing employer wellness program.  Genetic Alliance worked 12.5 years with more than 500 other organizations to ensure the passage of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA). These new rules undermine the core protections in GINA - discrimination in employment and insurance and essentially allow enormous cracks in the wall of medical privacy provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Insurance Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).

These new rules allow for coercive practices, so employees will have to either share private medical information with employers or pay substantially more for health insurance. We fear the great advances in genetic services afforded by GINA will be undone and that people will refuse testing and treatments because of fear that their employers and insurers will discriminate against them. Vulnerable populations will suffer needlessly and disproportionately. Despite a yeoman’s effort by our network, and those of many others, including the National Partnership of Women and Families and the AARP, the rule was issued.

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