Slaughter, Hoyer Oppose Legislation That Would Undermine Genetic Privacy Protections, Rights of Disabled Americans

by jeeg 25. March 2015 04:31


Today, Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY), author of the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) and House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), who played a leading role in passing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), spoke out against legislation that would undermine privacy protections for employees of companies with corporate wellness programs. H.R. 1189, the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act, would significantly limit the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's authority to investigate or litigate complaints of discrimination in employer-provided wellness programs, undercutting important privacy protections for workers in both GINA and the ADA.

The House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing on H.R. 1189 today.

"I fought for 14 years to pass GINA because Americans were losing their jobs and their health care due to their genetic information being used against them," said Rep. Slaughter. "All Americans should all be able to enjoy better health benefits - whether they are genetic tests or corporate wellness plans - without being coerced into sharing private genetic information. This bill is a clear attack on Americans' privacy, and I call on my colleagues to oppose it."

Congresswoman Slaughter led GINA for fourteen years before it finally passed the House by a vote of 420-3 and the Senate unanimously in 2008, and was signed into law by President George W. Bush. With the passage of GINA, individuals no longer have to fear their health insurance premiums skyrocketing or their boss making hiring or firing decisions based on a genetic predisposition to a condition they may or may not ever develop. The late Senator Ted Kennedy described GINA as "the first civil rights act of the 21st century."

"I was proud to sponsor the Americans with Disabilities Act, and as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of passage of that important bill, protection from employer discrimination is as crucial as ever," said Whip Hoyer. "While it is clear that these wellness programs are important tools to improve the health and wellbeing of Americans and should be continued, the PreserWhip Hoyer played a leading role in the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which won strong bipartisan support in 1990. This landmark civil rights legislation, signed into law by President George H.W. Bush, has helped millions of disabled Americans participate fully in our society. In 2008, Congressman

Hoyer also led the effort to pass the ADA Amendments Act, which restored certain job protections included in the 1990 act that a series of Supreme Court decisions in cases challenging ADA had severely eroded.ving Employee Wellness Programs Act could put at risk the protections of GINA and the ADA for workers and their families. We ought to work on a bipartisan basis to strengthen these wellness programs without undermining the protections that GINA and the ADA provide to millions of Americans."

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