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GINA: An Update III

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, known in shorthand as GINA, is federal legislation that would prohibit insurance companies from discriminating against an applicant based on genetic information, the refusal to submit genetic information, or for have been genetically tested in the past. The Act, if passed, would also prohibit employers from using or collecting genetic information to make employment decisions. I wrote a GINA Primer in April, if you’re interested in learning more about the Act (here’s the full text of the legislation). The Act, which is currently a bill before the Senate, easily passed the House of Representatives (97% voted aye), and President Bush has said that he would sign the bill into law if it reaches his desk.

In August, I wrote about the stalled status of GINA in the Senate. At that time, a “hold” had been placed on GINA by Senator Tom Coburn, M.D., a Republican from Oklahoma. There was a story about the stall in the Boston Globe (available here) and The Buffalo News (available here).

As an article by Alexis Madrigal in Wired – “Genetic Nondiscrimination Bill Stalled In Senate” – discusses, the bill has still not been voted on in the Senate as a result of Senator Coburn’s hold. According to the article, Senator Coburn has placed the hold because of concerns that “an employer who provides health insurance for its workers could be sued both as an insurer and as an employer.”

In the comments following the Wired story, one commenter mentioned a recent USNews article and brought up the lack of the opposing side’s viewpoint in most discussions of GINA. There’s also a recent article from Xconomy. Links to opposing viewpoints can be found via Wikipedia’s GINA page.

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, the moving force behind GINA, has more information at her website. I was unable to find a public statement from Senator Coburn.

Blaine Bettinger

Intellectual property attorney, genealogist, and author of The Genetic Genealogist since 2007

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