President Bush on May 21 signed into law legislation supported by the insurance industry to bar employers and health insurance plans from discriminating against individuals based on the results of genetic testing.
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, HR 493, was passed overwhelmingly by both the House and the Senate.
“It protects our citizens from having genetic information misused, and this bill does so without undermining the basic premise of the insurance industry,” the president said at a signing ceremony. President Bush also offered praise for one of the champions of the legislation in the Senate as lawmakers debated the issue over the past decade, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., who was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor.
The legislation ran into a roadblock in the Senate when Sen. Thomas Coburn, R-Okla., blocked debate of the bill on the Senate floor because of concerns that it could expose employers to litigation over medical coverage disputes.
Supporters eased those concerns, and cleared the road for passage, by adding a “firewall” between the portions of the bill relating to employers and the portions relating to governing insurers.