By Associated Press - Thursday, January 23, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Legislation in Florida to bar insurance companies from using home genetic testing kits in making underwriting decisions is headed to the House floor, after a panel on Thursday voted unanimously in favor of the proposal.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Chris Sprowls, who is next in line to become House Speaker, has called the measure a matter of privacy over a person’s genetic code amid the growing popularity of over-the-counter DNA kits.

Consumers use the kits to gain insights to ancestry, but some companies market their tests as a way to discover genetic markers associated with certain conditions and diseases.

The proposal seeks to outlaw life, disability and long-term care insurers from denying policies or setting premiums based on markers that might be discovered through DNA home kits. A marker, however, does not necessarily mean a person will develop the corresponding disease.

Federal law already prevents health insurers from considering preexisting conditions for medical coverage. And while federal law already prevents health insurers from refusing medical coverage to Americans with congenital health conditions and accessing a patient’s genetic code, the Florida proposal would extend protections to those seeking life insurance based on genetic testing.

The House Commerce Committee sent the matter to the full House despite opposition from insurers.

“We respect and share the Speaker designate’s passion for protecting consumer privacy,” said Curt Leonard, the regional vice president for state relations for the American Council of Life Insurers.

In a statement, he said the proposal “would disrupt the market and could cause severe price increases in the insurance market.”

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