Measure To Protect Genetic Privacy Advances in House
The House Committee on Education and Labor on Wednesday approved a bill (HR 493) under which employers and health insurers could not discriminate against U.S. residents based on the results of genetic tests, the Wall Street Journal reports (Zhang, Wall Street Journal, 2/15).
Under the legislation, employers could not make decisions about whether to hire potential employees or fire or promote employees based on the results of genetic tests. In addition, health insurers could not deny coverage to potential members or charge higher premiums to members based on the results of genetic tests (American Health Line, 2/1).
The legislation includes some small differences from a similar bill (S 358) approved last month by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
Prior to passage of the bill, the House committee approved an amendment that would limit the definition of "family member" to a blood relative within four generations and would revise the definition of "genetic testing" to account for prenatal tests. In addition, the committee passed an amendment that would require employees to separate genetic information from personnel files.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee must approve the bill before the full House votes on the legislation (CongressDaily, 2/15).
The full Senate likely will vote on the bill within two weeks. President Bush has said that he would sign the legislation (Wall Street Journal, 2/15).
APM's "Marketplace Morning Report" on Thursday reported on the House bill. The segment includes comments from Slaughter (Niiler, "Marketplace Morning Report," 2/15).
A transcript and audio of the segment are available online.