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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Senate Passes Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act

Update: President Bush signed the bill into law on May 21, 2008.

The Senate voted 95-0 to approve the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (H.R. 493), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of genetic information with respect to health insurance and employment. The legislation now goes back to the House, which passed in the House of Representatives on April 25, 2007 by a roll call vote of 420 Ayes, 3 Nays, 9 Present/Not Voting. President Bush supports the legislation. AAEA supported the legislation.

Title I - Genetic Nondiscrimination in Health Insurance: (Excerpt) Prohibits a group health plan from requesting or requiring an individual or family member of an individual from undergoing a genetic test. Provides that such prohibition does not: (1) limit the authority of a health care professional to request an individual to undergo a genetic test; or (2) preclude a group health plan from obtaining or using the results of a genetic test in making a determination regarding payment. Requires the plan to request only the minimum amount of information necessary to accomplish the intended purpose.

Title II - Prohibiting Employment Discrimination on the Basis of Genetic Information: (Excerpt) Prohibits, as an unlawful employment practice, an employer, employment agency, labor organization, or joint labor-management committee from discriminating against an employee, individual, or member because of genetic information. Prohibits, as an unlawful employment practice, an employer, employment agency, labor organization, or joint labor-management committee from limiting, segregating, or classifying employees, individuals, or members because of genetic information in any way that would deprive or tend to deprive such individuals of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect their status as employees.

Jody Platt Garcia and Corey Turner from the University of Michigan and the Genetics Equity Network, did an excellent job of coordinating educational outreach and support for this legislation. GEN also provided testimony before Congress in support of the bill. (The Washington Post) (2006 Howard Univ Conference)

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