Genetic counselors are master’s-trained healthcare professionals specialized in the process of helping people understand and adapt to the medical, psychological, and familial implications of genetic contributions of disease.

Genetic counseling licensure acts have been passed in 29 states so far. Genetic counselors in Florida are actively pursuing licensure. For more information on why, please see below.

Licensure of genetic counselors may provide benefits to institutions:

1. Reimbursement – Licensure can lead to higher reimbursement rates for genetic counselors and generate more revenue for healthcare systems.

2. Decrease costs to the healthcare system – Genetic counselors are experts in genetic test utilization management. By having licensed genetic counselors ordering more appropriate genetic tests, this can potentially save healthcare systems thousands to millions of dollars annually.

3. Avoiding harm – Patients will have access to licensed genetic counselors who are regulated at the state level. Currently anyone can call them self a genetic counselor who may not be qualified to provide genetic counseling services. Licensure will prevent this.

4. Access to care – Licensure can increase the visibility and autonomy of genetic counselors to expand access to genetics services throughout the state.

A genetic counseling licensure act would:

1. Establish a critical process of accountability, ensuring high quality care for the citizens of Florida, and providing recourse (which does not currently exist) if inappropriate care is provided.

2. Not restrict the practice of medicine within the current standards of care; as such, otherwise licensed health care providers may continue to provide counseling for genetic risk. It will instead facilitate the identification of individuals with competency in the area of genetic counseling, thus reducing the likelihood of harm to patients.

3. Establish a continuing education (CE) requirement for genetic counselors, which currently is only required for genetic counselors certified after 1996. Since the field of genetic counseling is rapidly changing, CE requirements will assure a higher quality of care statewide.

Not incur a significant cost to the state. Utilization of the existing American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC) certification examination in the licensure process will minimize cost to the state nor its citizens.

A separate, but equally important effort is underway: H.R. 3235, the “Access to Genetic Counselor Services Act of 2019”:

1. The Act would provide coverage of services furnished by genetic counselors under part B of the Medicare program.

2. Other practitioners that currently provide the service will not be affected.

3. Genetic counselors would be able to assign reimbursement to their employer.

For additional information and for guidance on how to advocate for this bill
please visit https://www.nsgc.org/p/cm/ld/fid=612.

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