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Senators Look To Restrict Use Of Genetic Information

Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach
News Service of Florida
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A Senate committee on Monday approved a bill that would restrict life-insurance companies from using genetic testing information in making decisions about selling policies. 

Sponsor Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, last week asked that a vote on the bill be delayed so he could have more time to work on finding a compromise with insurance companies and industry executives, who had balked at a ban on the use of genetic information.

Before approving the bill, the Senate Health Policy Committee backed an amendment that would prevent life-insurance and long-term care insurance companies from requiring applicants to take genetic tests or from collecting applicants’ genetic information or genetic test results without the applicants’ authorization.

Moreover, the bill makes clear that a company cannot sell, release or share any personal identifying health information about consumers with life- or health-insurance companies without prior written authorization and written requests from the consumers.

The bill (SB 258) was supported by the American Council of Life Insurers, which had been opposing the measure. It also is supported by state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, who has oversight of the state’s top insurance regulator.

Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala,  said he appreciated the risk that the bill was trying to address and relayed a story about how his adoptive daughter suffers from Huntington’s disease and how he was encouraged to purchase a life insurance policy for her before finding out definitively whether she had the disease.

“You can destroy a system by setting it up so it can be gamed,” Baxley said.