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Genetic information proposal ready for Senate vote

The House has already passed a bill.

A bill that would block insurance companies from using or soliciting genetic information from customers is ready for the Senate floor.

The bill, which passed the House with just one nay vote, has momentum in the Senate, clearing Rules, its final committee stop.

Sen. Kelli Stargel, the bill’s sponsor (SB 1564,) had offered in a previous committee a strike all amendment, allowing insurance companies to consider medical records for medical diagnoses only.

Testimony in previous committees was critical, noting that the bill would make Florida the first and the only state to ban genetic tests. However, no such testimony was offered Wednesday.

Questions ensued.

Sen. Jeff Brandes wondered if a person could “donate” DNA to insurance companies to lower rates.

That apparently is possible, but Brandes was a no-vote.

The Florida Association of Genetic Counselors, meanwhile, was in support.

The Senate and House versions may need eventual reconciliation, House sponsor Chris Sprowls noted.

“The Senate is working through the process in their chamber and they will come to their own conclusions about what values they think matter the most,” Sprowls previously said in a statement to the News Service of Florida. “It is premature to comment on a bill until the Senate passes a final version. At that point, we will talk through our differences (if any) and try to arrive at a final product that provides a just result for the people of Florida.”

Lawmakers grappled with the genetic testing issue in the 2019 Legislative Session, putting forward a bill that would stop life insurers from yanking, lifting or denying coverage based on test results from companies like 23andMe.

Though the 2019 bill stalled in its third Senate committee, momentum clearly was built for 2020.

Insurers have noted that genetic testing could lower insurance premiums. But privacy concerns are winning the day this Session.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at AG@FloridaPolitics.com

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