Sen. Sosnowski’s genetic counselors legislation ceremonially signed into law

STATE HOUSE – Legislation (2022-S-2205A) sponsored by Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski to establish a licensing process for genetic counselors within the Department of Health was ceremonially signed into law by the governor today.

Currently in Rhode Island, there is no legal standard to determine who can represent themselves as genetic counselors.

The legislation would ensure minimum standards for genetic counselors in the areas of academic training, certification, clinical experience and the delivery of high-quality genetic counseling services.

“This bill is about protecting our state’s patients when utilizing genetic counselors while also controlling health-care costs through the ordering of correct tests, the prevention of unnecessary testing and proper interpretation of genetic tests. These patients are experiencing significant anxiety and stress and the legislation will ensure they are treated properly and safely,” said Senator Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham).

Genetic counseling is the process of helping people understand and adapt to the medical, psychological and familial implications of genetic contributions to disease. Genetic counselors are health care professionals who have specialized graduate degrees and experience in medical genetics and counseling. They serve as interpreters of medical information and help patients reach decisions that are appropriate for each individual, according to his or her own beliefs.

Some genetic counselors consult with patients for adult onset conditions such as breast and colon cancer, Huntington’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, and for prenatal diagnosis and pediatric genetic disorders.