President Bush signed legislation that would make it illegal for employers and insurers to deny coverage to individuals based on their genetic makeup. 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, Bush said from the Oval Office, according to a news release.
The bill, called the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, won overwhelming support among federal lawmakers, healthcare organizations and insurance companies even though some employer groups aligned against it, calling it overly vague and likely to lead to frivolous lawsuits.
This bill protects both employees and employers by setting a standard of conduct that is easy to understand and easy to follow, said Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), the senior Republican on the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, who along with Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) co-sponsored the bill. We are far better off setting uniform, consistent rules of the road clearly and upfront, rather than allowing them to be set piecemeal through litigation.
Supporters of the legislation said they hope it will encourage more people to take advantage of preventive health programs, genetic screening, clinical trials and other still-undiscovered breakthroughs without having to worry that their most sensitive health information could be used against them. (For more on the GINA bill, please see "GINA will dissipate 'fear of repercussions': expert".)