The U.S. Congress overwhelmingly approved bills banning discrimination based on a patient’s genetic information.
Jewish groups, led by Hadassah, strongly lobbied for the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act, which keeps employers from requiring employees to undergo genetic tests and from using the information in such tests to make employment decisions. That act also keeps insurers from increasing rates or denying services based on genetic testing.
“Americans will no longer have to fear losing health insurance or employment by submitting to vital genetics tests that will allow them to better care for their health,” Hadassah said in a statement. “In addition, this important area of medical research which has long been hampered by a reluctance of patients to participate in clinical trials for fear of having genetic information listed on medical records will now be able to move forward.” Jews at are higher risk of inheriting genetic disorders.
The Senate passed the legislation 95-0 last week and on Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill 414-1, with U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) the sole vote against. President Bush is expected to sign it soon. Versions of the bill have been before Congress for 13 years.
“This is victory for the diagnosis and treatment of genetic diseases that have affected the Jewish community for generations and we strong encourage President Bush to sign this legislation immediately,” said a statement from United Jewish Communities federation umbrella group.