Friday, March 31, 2017
House Committee Passes Controversial Wellness Bill
A controversial bill that would give employers greater leeway in obtaining genetic and other sensitive health information from employees and increase the financial incentives for employees to participate in workplace wellness programs was passed by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce along party lines on March 8, 2016. Critics of the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act contend that it will gut key protections in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA), coerce employees into giving up genetic and health information, and weaken the role of the EEOC in overseeing wellness programs. Opposition to the bill has been expressed by a wide range of consumer, health and privacy advocacy groups, including the AARP, the American Diabetes Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Epilepsy Foundation, the March of Dimes, the National Association for Rare Disorders, the American Society for Human Genetics and the ACLU. HHS Secretary Tom Price reportedly is among those expressing concern about the bill, which still needs to be taken up by the House Ways and Means Committee before it could advance to the full House and the Senate.