Genetic Nondiscrimination Bill Signed Into Law

President George W. Bush signed H.R. 493, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, into law on Wednesday afternoon in an Oval Office ceremony. U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and was a key supporter pushing the bill to Senate passage on April 24, was unable to attend, but the president said he was thankful Kennedy had left a hospital and gone home after his diagnosis of brain cancer.

Bush called the bill "a piece of legislation which prohibits health insurers and employers from discriminating on the basis of genetic information. In other words, it protects our citizens from having genetic information misused, and this bill does so without undermining the basic premise of the insurance industry." Kennedy and his Republican counterpart on the HELP Committee, Ranking Member Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., have described the bill as the first major civil rights legislation of the 21st Century and a door that will open the way for better health screening for all Americans.

"I also want to pay homage today to -- and not only to members of the Congress who are behind me, but also to Senator Ted Kennedy, who has worked for over a decade to get this piece of legislation to a president's desk," Bush said during the signing ceremony. "All of us are so pleased that Senator Kennedy has gone home, and our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family."

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