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Tag: genetic discrimination

Senate Passes Legislation Banning Genetic Discrimination

Written by on Thursday, April 24th, 2008

The Senate has unanimously passed the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit genetic discrimination in employment and health insurance coverage decisions, reported the Associated Press.

The Associated Press reported:

The bill, described by Sen. Edward Kennedy as "the first major new civil rights bill of the new century," would bar health insurance companies from using genetic information to set premiums or determine enrollment eligibility. Similarly, employers could not use genetic information in hiring, firing or promotion decisions.

This is not the first time that the Senate has passed genetic non-discrimination legislation: bills were passed unanimously by the Senate in 2003 and 2005, but the House did not act to pass the bills at that time.  The House, however, passed a version of the bill last year. 

The Associated Press reported:

Senate action on [the] legislation has been slowed by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who joined some business groups in warning that the bill could encourage a flood of lawsuits.

A compromise worked out earlier this week tightens language to ensure there is a "firewall" between the part dealing with health plans and the section regarding employment, so as to discourage inappropriate claims.

It also makes clear that, while individuals are protected from discrimination based on genetic predisposition, insurance companies still have the right to base coverage and pricing on the actual presence of a disease.

The California Biotech Law Blog will continue to follow this legislation as it is considered by the House.   

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