Viewpoint: Why our nation needs to expand access to genetic counselors


Recently, our country saw an incredibly rare event — the introduction of a bipartisan bill.

The bill — H.R. 7083 “Access to Genetic Counselor Services Act of 2018” — would allow certified genetic counselors to be recognized as health care providers through Medicare. As we have seen with the recent controversies of genetic testing being used by Elizabeth Warren to confirm her ancestry, and by law enforcement to solve an increasing number of cold cases, genetic testing can be complicated.

This bill could not have come at a better time.

Genetic information and technology are growing so rapidly that many specialists in other fields have difficulty keeping up, much less the public.

Genetic counselors are health care professionals with specialized training in medical genetics and counseling. Genetic counselors are trained to fully explain and explore the concepts of genetic testing and genetic test results with patients, as well as potential psychosocial issues inherent in genetic diagnostic information.

Currently, Medicare patients have difficulty gaining access to the specialized services of genetic counselors and must look to other health care professionals to pursue and interpret genetic testing. If H.R. 7083 becomes law, genetic counselors would be allowed to bill Medicare for their services, increasing access for patients and helping to secure the financial viability of the profession at a time when more genetics and genomic expertise is desperately needed.

Read full, original post: Opinion: Bipartisanship in our genes

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