Lawmakers seek to block insurance companies from access to DNA tests

Published: Jan. 16, 2020 at 5:14 PM EST
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By: Mike Vasilinda | Capitol News Service

January 16, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) — More than 26 million Americans have voluntarily submitted their DNA for analysis, but a loophole in federal law could allow some insurance companies to get the genetic information.

State lawmakers took the first step Wednesday to close the loophole.

Hundreds of DNA testing kits are on the market and getting more popular everyday.

An analysis by a state legislative committee reports nearly 6% of Americans have had the tests run.

A federal law stops most insurance companies from getting their hands on the results.

“There is a massive loophole for life, disability and long term care,” said Representative Chris Sprowls.

Sprowls is leading the charge to make sure insurers are barred from asking for the tests and then using them against people.

“They’re gonna take genetic information that can be weaponized by an insurance company who’s gonna take it to set rates or exclude somebody from coverage,” said Sprowls.

The insurance industry has nine high powered lobbyists working against the bill, hoping to short circuit if for the second year in a row.

None of the lobbyists would talk with us on the record about their opposition before or after the bills first hearing.

The insurers worry someone who isn’t in the market for insurance might learn of a potential illness, purchase that policy and then drive up losses and rates.

“What they want to do is have nor risks. They want to spin the roulette wheel and know exactly where the ball is gonna land and that’s unacceptable,” said Sprowls.

Senate sponsor Kelli Stargel of Lakeland said the fears are misplaced.

“I think they’re putting a higher weight on some of these genetic tests. More than just a propensity as well,” said Stargel.

The bill cleared its first committee unanimously.

The AARP and Johns Hopkins Childrens Hospital both supported the legislation.

Copyright 2020 Capitol News Service. All rights reserved.

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