Senate Moves To Prevent Genetic Discrimination

In: All News   Posted 10/14/2003

WASHINGTON – Recent scientific breakthroughs have opened new doors for medical researchers in analyzing genetic information, including DNA and RNA. While the advancements yield promising hope for individuals diagnosed with rare genetic diseases, they also can lead to discriminatory practices in the health insurance market and in the workplace. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee joined Senate colleagues Tuesday to unanimously approve the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2003, (S. 1053). Cornyn, a co-sponsor of the bill, said “no one should have to worry about their job or getting insurance based on their genetic makeup—this bill makes sure they never will.” The measure passed by a vote of 95-0. the bipartisan bill prohibits insurance companies that offer coverage in either the group or individual market from discrimination based on genetic information. Further, the legislation bans issuers of Medicare supplemental policies from denying or conditioning the issuance of a policy based on such information. Once enacted, employment practices that discriminate based on genetic information will be outlawed. Cornyn said that “all individuals, whether healthy or sick, and all medical information should be afforded the same protections under the law.” Future acts of discrimination based on genetic information will be enforced under the Civil Rights Act, and applies current Health and Human Services (HHS) medical privacy rules. the bill was reported out of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on July 31, 2003, after several related hearings.