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Genetic counseling licensing request killed in Senate committee

Genetic counseling licensing request killed in Senate committee

Dustin Hurst
March 7, 2014
Author Image
March 7, 2014
[post_thumbnail] Sen. John Tippets, R-Montpelier, chair of the Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee, cast the deciding vote in killing a measure to license genetic counselors.

A group of genetic counselors asking the state to license them to conduct business took the request a little too far, according to a number of legislators, resulting in a proposed licensing bill killed in committee.

The Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee voted it down 5 to 4 Thursday. The measure would have created a state-backed genetic counselor license.

Jennifer Eichmeyer, one of only a handful of genetic counselors working in Idaho, said that the regulations that come with licensure would ensure that residents receive better service and protection from the state.

But the measure, which would have made it a misdemeanor to violate the regulations, caused some lawmakers, like Sen. Todd Lakey, R-Nampa, “a little discomfort.”

Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, helped kill the measure, telling Eichmeyer that it went too far. “I am troubled by the misdemeanor language,” Cameron said. “I think that’s a little too onerous.”

The measure also called for licensure applicants to pay a $1,000 fee to the state, which Cameron also knocked as problematic.

Wayne Hoffman, president of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, told committee members that the measure would do little to improve health outcomes and reduce costs.

“Will this bill lower the cost of medicine?” Hoffman asked. “Will it improve the quality of care? More regulation hasn’t yielded those results.”

In fact, Hoffman contended, the massive fee could discourage new parties from taking up genetic counseling, which would keep market prices artificially high. “It will also make it harder for people to enter the profession,” Hoffman warned.

Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking, D-Boise, motioned for the measure to move forward and Sen. Jim Patrick, R-Twin Falls, called the bill “a step in the right direction.”

Committee chair Sen. John Tippets, R-Montpelier, cast the deciding and dooming vote for the deadlocked panel, ultimately because he, too, felt the measure was an overreach.

Genetic counselors generally hold master’s degrees and consult patients about life-altering diseases and genetics. According to the latest information available, only 13 states license these counselors.

Note: The Idaho Freedom Foundation publishes IdahoReporter.com.

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