Genetic discrimination bill progressing in Congress

After more than a decade of attempts, it looks like Congress might finally pass a bill that would block health insurers from denying coverage to otherwise healthy persons based on their genetic predisposition to come down with a particular disease. The bill, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, also would bar employers from using genetic info as part of hiring, firing, job placement or promotions. The House approved the bill last year, and the Senate is expected to vote on it this week. The Senate version, however, attempts to make the bill easier on insurers. The changes are a concession to Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), who has blocked the bill, arguing that it could impose unintended liability risks.

If this bill passes, it could have important implications for the future of personalized medicine. Right now, some researchers studying gene-specific effects of treatments are finding that some subjects won't participate due to fears that their data will be used in just the fashion proscribed by this legislation.

To learn more about the bill:
- read this Modern Healthcare piece (reg. req.)

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