President Bush Signs Legislation Banning Genetic Discrimination
President Bush on Wednesday signed into law a bill (HR 493), the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, that prohibits discrimination based on the results of genetic tests, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports (Feller, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 5/22).
Under the bill, health insurers cannot deny coverage to potential members or charge higher premiums to members because of genetic test results.
In addition, employers cannot make decisions about whether to hire potential employees or fire or promote employees based on the results of genetic tests.
The House this month voted 414-1 to approve the bill, while the Senate last month approved the legislation 95-0 (California Healthline, 5/2).
Bush said the bill "protects our citizens from having genetic information misused ... without undermining the basic premise of the insurance industry" (Ward, Washington Times, 5/22).
After signing the legislation, Bush thanked Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), who waged a "13-year battle" to get genetic nondiscrimination legislation passed, and other congressional members instrumental in passage of the bill, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports.
To pass the bill, legislators had to overcome opposition from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups, who said that the legislation could lead to frivolous lawsuits against employers, according to the Democrat and Chronicle (Kelly, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 5/22).
C-SPAN video of Bush signing the bill is available online (C-SPAN, 5/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.