Thursday, May 1, 2008 - 08:51
Good news! Good news! Last week the Senate passed the Genetic Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). This week it was passed by the House. It only needs one signature and GINA will become law. For years, those of us who teach genetics have had to caution students about genetic testing. The biggest reason was the fear that having a genetic test would cause them to lose their health insurance. There were just too many stories about people who had been denied insurance because they took a genetic test and discovered a predisposition to something like Huntington's disease or breast cancer. But now, there will be a law to prohibit employers and health insurers from discriminating against individuals on the basis of their genetic information. I'm not sure if this bill covers other forms of insurance, like life insurance, but this is certainly a move in the right direction. It took 13 years, but it finally seems likely genetic information can be used to empower people and not just to penalize them.