Insurance industry groups are hailing genetic nondiscrimination legislation that the Senate passed April 24 by a 95 to 0 vote.
The legislation, known as the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, or H.R. 493, bars discrimination by employers and health insurers on the basis of genetic testing.
The legislation had already been passed in the House, but had run into a roadblock when Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., stopped it from being debated on the Senate floor over concerns that employers would be subject to litigation over medical coverage disputes.
That concern was assuaged by the adding of a “firewall” between the portions of the bill relating to employers and those governing insurers.
The bill will now be sent to the White House.
John Greene, vice president of congressional affairs for the National Association of Health Underwriters, said the “firewall” between the two provided an important protection that improved the overall bill. Overall, Greene said HR 493 “is a good compromise that isn’t going to impact the costs of insurance,” while allowing for better access to genetic testing and the potential benefits it can provide.