US close to passing law banning genetic discrimination

Bush is expected to soon sign legislation prohibiting health insurance companies from penalizing individuals based on genetic testing.

genes biology 88 (photo credit:)
genes biology 88
(photo credit: )
US President George W. Bush is expected to soon sign into law legislation prohibiting health insurance companies from penalizing individuals based on genetic testing, a particular concern to Ashkenazi Jews, who sometimes carry certain deleterious DNA mutations. After 13 years of effort, Congress this week sent the White House legislation forbidding insurers from using genetic information to set premiums or enrollment eligibility and employers from using genetic information in hiring, firing or promotion decisions. The US House of Representatives voted 414-1 for the legislation on Thursday, with libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-Texas) the sole voice of opposition. Last week, it passed the Senate 95-0. Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, which had lobbied hard for the provision, welcomed the bill's passage. "Since each one of us carries genetic mutations - which may or may not express themselves during our lifetimes in the form of a disease - this is good news for every American," Hadassah National President Nancy Falchuk said in a statement. Hadassah made the issue a priority once medical research showed that Ashkenazi Jews frequently have genetic mutations predisposing them to certain forms of cancer. Other Jewish groups have also backed the legislation. "Genetic diseases do not discriminate, and neither should health insurance providers when determining what coverage to provide," said William Daroff, vice president for public policy for the United Jewish Communities. "This is victory for the diagnosis and treatment of genetic diseases that have affected the Jewish community for generations."