Genetic Non-Discrimination Bill Passes U.S. House

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act (H.R. 493) yesterday by a 420-3 vote, intended to protect workers from genetic discrimination. The bill was first introduced 12 years ago by U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., who chairs the House Rules Committee. No health plan or insurer could deny coverage or raise premiums based entirely on a healthy worker's predisposition to a disease, if the bill is enacted into law.

"I am extremely pleased to see this historic bill pass the House of Representatives with such overwhelming support," Slaughter said. "For years, we've held up genetic research because people were afraid that their genetic information would be used against them. This legislation addresses those fears by prohibiting the improper use of genetic information by a person's employer or insurer. GINA will do more than stamp out a new form of discrimination. It will also help our country to be a leader in a field of scientific research that holds as much promise as any other in history."

H.R. 493 was co-sponsored by more than 220 members of Congress. President Bush has indicated he supports the bill, and the U.S. Senate has previously passed the bill unanimously.

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