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Agencies Act On Genetic Tests

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Several federal agencies have proposed new rules to safeguard patients’ genetic information.

The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury have proposed a rule to ensure that genetic information is not used adversely in determining health care coverage.

HHS say its hopes that protecting genetic information encourages more individuals to participate in genetic testing, which can help better identify and prevent certain illnesses.

“Consumer confidence in genetic testing can now grow and help researchers get a better handle on the genetic basis of diseases,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in announcing the proposed rule.

The rule would implement provisions of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008.

In the group market, the act prohibits group health plans to increase premiums for a group based on the results of one enrollee’s genetic information; deny enrollment; impose pre-existing condition exclusions; or do other forms of underwriting based on genetic information.

In the individual health insurance market, GINA prohibits health insurers from using genetic information to deny coverage, raise premiums, or impose pre-existing condition exclusions.

Details of the proposed rule can be found here.