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Lawmakers weigh use of genetic information

Supporters say the bills are needed to shield private health information.

With genetic tests becoming increasingly common, Florida lawmakers are moving forward with proposals that would prevent life-insurance companies from using such testing information in deciding whether to sell policies to customers.

The House Health Market Reform Subcommittee on Wednesday approved one of the proposals (HB 879), filed by Rep. Jayer Williamson, a Pace Republican.

The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee on Monday approved the Senate version (SB 258), filed by Republican Sen. Aaron Bean, of Fernandina Beach.

Health insurers are already barred from considering customers’ genetic information, and the bills would extend that prohibition to life insurers.

Supporters say the bills are needed to shield private health information.

“Protect their most private information,” Williamson told the House panel, referring to lawmakers’ constituents.

But the insurance industry is fighting the proposals.

Paul Sanford, a lobbyist for the Florida Insurance Council and American Council of Life Insurers, told the panel, for example, that a customer with the fatal genetic disorder Huntington’s disease would not have disclose genetic-test results to insurers under the proposal.

The News Service of Florida provides journalists, lobbyists, government officials and other civic leaders with comprehensive, objective information about the activities of state government year-round.

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