GINA’s Scope Can Go Beyond HIPAA and ADA
When one thinks about privacy of health information, two laws typically come to mind: HIPAA and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A recent EEOC letter reminds us of a third law - the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).
In a recent informal discussion letter, the EEOC addressed a narrow issue: if personal health information and occupational health information can be stored in a single electronic medical record (EMR). Both the ADA and GINA restrict access to and require confidentiality of such information. The EEOC concluded that combining these records into one file probably violates both laws.
Recall that GINA governs genetic information, which includes not only genetic tests and data, but also anything containing family medical history. The EEOC made it very clear that GINA prohibits employers from requesting or obtaining genetic information at all stages of employment. The ADA, at least, allows employer access to disability information during employment if it is job related and consistent with business necessity. HIPAA is limited to protected health information (PHI) maintained by a covered entity (not an employer) or a business associate.
GINA was passed in 2008. Several sets of regulations have been issued since then and are currently in effect. GINA allows for private lawsuits, unlike HIPAA. For more information on Title I of GINA (governing health coverage), click here. For more information on Title II of GINA (governing the workplace), click here.
GINA is not easily understood or frequently discussed. What steps have you taken to make your staff aware of GINA? Post your comments here. Would you be interested in a seminar or webinar on GINA? If so, e-mail us at email@example.com.
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