Chris Sprowls’ DNA protection bill headed to House floor
Image via Palatka Main Street.

The DNA bill's Senate companion has yet to move.

Speaker-Designate Chris Sprowls‘ bill to protect Floridians’ DNA from insurance companies will head to the House floor after unanimously passing the House Commerce Committee Thursday.

State and federal law already prevents health insurance companies from considering a person’s genetic information when deciding if and at what price to cover that consumer. But the Palm Harbor Republican’s proposal (HB 1189) would extend that ban to life, disability and long-term care insurers.

Insurance companies could still use medical diagnoses to plan their coverage. And while insurance providers aren’t yet using that information, company officials have said they want to and should have that right.

“I think that the quicker we can get ahead of it — so that it doesn’t happen and isn’t an issue for consumers and prevent the problem — is our moral obligation,” Sprowls said.

With the Speaker-Designate’s personal backing, the bill has coasted through its two House committees. Last week, it passed the House Health and Human Services Committee, also by a unanimous vote.

But in the Senate, Lakeland Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel‘s version (SB 1564) has yet been scheduled for a hearing in its first stop, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee. Still, Sprowls is confident the Senator will get the bill up and running in her chamber.

Genetic testing can be extremely dangerous for insurance shoppers, Sprowls said. That’s not just because of the recent craze for companies like 23andMe, Ancestry and FamilyTree that sell customers their ethnic history and DNA insights.

“That doesn’t include the thousands of others who’ve been a part of groundbreaking clinical trials, who’ve had a clinical setting do a DNA test,” he said. “So many millions of Americans are at risk for this.”

To Sprowls, insurance companies are meant to spread risk, not to differentiate between otherwise average customers and those with no health predisposition.

“It is about [insurance] that is affordable for the consumers and that that risk is managed appropriately,” he said. “And life insurance, long-term care insurance and disability insurance should not just be for the genetically elite.”

CFO Jimmy Patronis‘ office, the Florida Association of Genetic Counselors, BioFlorida, AARP and four health care centers signaled their support for the measure.

One group backing the measure, Protecting Our DNA, launched a minute-long ad last week saying the bill would protect Floridians’ DNA, privacy and insurance plans. Floridians for Economic Freedom, a political committee chaired by Sprowls, sponsors the group.

Insurance companies oppose the proposal and argue customers know more about themselves, potentially cheating insurers out of accurate rates. Charging individuals predisposed to health problems at the average rate raises everyone’s price of coverage, they say. 

No group signaled their opposition during the Thursday committee meeting. But the Florida Insurance Council, the American Council of Life Insurers and the James Madison Institute opposed the bill last week.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


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