Saturday, March 24, 2007
Federal bill prohibiting genetic discrimination analyzed by Congressional Budget Office
- Amends the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and the Public Health Service Act to expand the prohibition against discrimination by group health plans and health insurance issuers in the group and individual markets on the basis of genetic information or services to prohibit: (1) enrollment and premium discrimination based on information about a request for or receipt of genetic services; and (2) requiring genetic testing. Sets forth penalties for violations.
- Amends title XVIII (Medicare) of the Social Security Act to prohibit issuers of Medicare supplemental policies from discriminating on the basis of genetic information.
- Extends medical privacy and confidentiality rules to the disclosure of genetic information.
- Makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer, employment agency, labor organization, or training program to discriminate against an individual or deprive such individual of employment opportunities because of genetic information. Prohibits the collection and disclosure of genetic information, with certain exceptions.
- Establishes a Genetic Nondiscrimination Study Commission to review the developing science of genetics and advise Congress on the advisability of providing for a disparate impact cause of action under this Act.
For a more detailed discussion of the bill, go to H. Rept. 11-28 (Part I), March 5, 2007. Also, a number of states already have similar laws on their books. The National Conference of State Legislatures has a handy list of such laws (last updated Nov. 2006 (employment) and June 2005 (insurance)).
Yesterday, the CBO published its cost estimate for H.R. 493. Over 10 years, the federal treasury would be out about $2 million (because premiums for some of the new insureds would be tax-deductible) and the CBO estimates increased outlays of about $2 million (assuming appropriations are approved) for the Departments of Labor, Treasury, and HHS. There will be additional state and private-sector mandates in connection with the anti-discrimination law, but CBO figures the cost will be low for the states and below the threshold in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act for the private-sector actors.
If there's a surprise in any of this, it might be in the estimated number of citizens expected to benefit from this law: 600. Is there any chance this is a typo?