March 7, 2007

GENETIC NONDISCRIMINATION BILL MOVING THROUGH CONGRESS

Legislation is moving through Congress that would bar discrimination by employers and insurers based on genetic information. The legislation would prohibit health insurers or employers from accessing the genetic information of patients or employees and considering it for hiring, firing, and making other business decisions.

Pending Bills:
· House: H.R. 493 introduced January 16, 2007 by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY).

· Senate: S. 358 introduced January 22, 2007 by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

Recent Action:
· Senate: Approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee on January 31.

· House: Amended version approved by the House Committee on Education and Labor on February 15.

Main Provisions Include:
· Makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer, employment agency, labor organization or training program to discriminate against an individual or deprive such individual of employment opportunities because of genetic information. Prohibits the collection and disclosure of genetic information, with certain exceptions.

· Expands prohibition against discrimination by group health plans and health insurance issuers in the group and individual markets on the basis of genetic information or services to prohibit: (1) genetic and premium discrimination based on information about a request for a receipt of genetic services; and (2) requiring genetic testing.

· Extends medical privacy and confidentiality rules to the disclosure of genetic information.

DCI will provide further updates as information becomes available.

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