Dear Rep. Foxx,
I read with great interest and increasing dread the report in today’s Winston-Salem Journal concerning workplace genetic testing.
The report entitled “Employees who decline genetic testing could face penalties under proposed bill” gives a brief outline of a bill that you have introduced as HR1313 that would
“undermine basic privacy provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the 2008 Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, or GINA.”
It goes on to further state,
“Congress passed GINA to prohibit discrimination by health insurers and employers based on the information that people carry in their genes. There is an exception that allows for employees to provide that information as part of voluntary wellness programs. But the law states that employee participation must be entirely voluntary, with no incentives to provide it, or penalties for not providing it (http://www.journalnow.com/news/local/employees-who-decline-genetic-testing-could-face-penalties-under-proposed/article_ec4136ca-650a-5ecd-9963-f5fb91acf1d4.html) .”
And now in a dystopian encore to the recently introduced “Trumpcare” bill that Paul Ryan has even defended as a means of taxing the poor more and giving the rich expanded tax cuts, you seem to be further proving that you are out of touch with the very constituency you represent.
You have said many controversial statements in the past and voted against the waves of common sense and decency. For instance:
- You voted against relief for Hurricane Katrina in Sept. of 2005.
- You defended Roger Clemens’s against steroid use by showing viewers on The Daily Show posters of the former Cy Young Award winner in an attempt to educate others on physique.
- You co-sponsored a bill to make Jesus part of Christmas in 2008.
- You have been quoted as saying, “Democrats have a tar baby on their hands,” that Matthew Shepherd’s death was a “hoax,” and that, “we have more to fear from the potential of the Affordable Care Act passing than we do from any terrorist right now in any country.”
Those are just a few examples. But this recent episode, I believe, might be the most egregious. Why? Because for someone who espouses such a strong public persona of faith in God and Jesus Christ, you are literally allowing for-profit companies to discriminate against people based on their genetics.
Simply put, you are proposing that people be discriminated against because of the way GOD MADE THEM!
Genetic testing can be a very scary experience. My wife and I experienced it when as older parents-to-be we received a prenatal diagnosis that our son had Down Syndrome. Extra chromosome aside, we have been blessed to raise our son just as God made him, but he does have a condition that can manifest itself in a variety of health-related obstacles.
You said in your comments concerning H.R. 3504, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, “These tiny, vulnerable lives deserve the protection afforded all other persons under the law, and this bill ensures that their lives are protected.” Did that mean you would as a law maker and a Christian would help ensure that their lives would be protected even after they reached adulthood and became part of the tax-paying workforce who votes as well?
Your introduction of HR1313 seems to contradict that very notion.
Not only am I a parent of a child with special genetics, a voter in your district, but I am also a public school teacher. In fact, I teach high school English and I do actively read, not just for pleasure, but to keep learning how others view the world. A recent perusal of Amazon.com yielded a possible “next-read.”
The description reads as follows:
“A very inspired and original compilation for this election year, ”God Is in the House” is a collection of essays by members of Congress who reflect on their deep faith and how it guides them as legislators. The book was compiled by Representative Virginia Foxx who personally asked congressional colleagues who are devout in their faith to contribute, coworkers who are in Bible study with her, and colleagues she knows on a personal level.”
It’s the “how it (deep faith) guides them as legislators” part of the description that confuses me because HR1313 does not seem to be honoring your faith in God, but rather honors your faith in profits.
And is it not ironic that the foreword is written by Paul Ryan, the architect of the current version of “Trumpcare” that actually takes more from the poor and gives it to the rich? Now that’s “God in the House!”
Yes, I understand that this does not mean that HR1313 would allow any employer to force all their workers to submit to genetic testing. But what it does mean is that employers can control how wellness benefits can be applied to employees based on whether they do or do not voluntarily give into genetic testing. What is to keep a particular employer from defining what can and cannot be covered under a “wellness” program.
In fact, an employer under your bill would be able to keep employees from being able to get premium rebates if they chose not to submit genetic testing. That’s allowing companies to control rates for insurance and what coverage they can extend – pure and simple.
What if one of your own children or grandchildren was subjected to such a test and was denied critical coverage or had to pay a steep penalty or higher premiums that could financially hinder family finances because of some unforeseen genetic “malady” or predisposition beyond his/her control? Would you tell that loved one that a “legal certainty” for someone else’s bottom line was more important than making sure that people could get the best health care they could?
I have an idea what Jesus would say.
However, before you even consider pressing this bill any further in Congress, I suggest that you be willing to subject yourself (along with others who support this bill) to a genetic test.
Maybe, we would then discover the very gene that predisposes one to obey the influence of large insurance company lobbyists rather than the very people that person is supposed to serve.