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US House to Re-Consider Genetic Nondiscrimination Bill

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — The US House of Representatives will again consider the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, after being stalled in the chamber for more than a decade, and three years after the Senate unanimously approved it.
First introduced in the House 12 years ago by Rep. Louise Slaughter, the bill aims to bar insurance companies and employers from discriminating against people based on genetic information. 
The bill, H.R. 493, was re-introduced to the House on Jan. 16 by Slaughter, a Democrat from New York, and Rep. Judy Biggert, a Republican from Illinois. Around 150 representatives co-sponsored the bill.
According to Slaughter and Biggert, GINA will make it illegal for group health insurers to deny coverage to healthy people based “solely on a genetic predisposition to a specific disease,” and will forbid employers from using genetic information “when making hiring, firing, job placement or promotion decisions.”
In a statement, Biggert and Slaughter said the measure has broad popular support, is backed by the Bush Administration, and is supported by a majority of genetic counselors.
GINA is currently awaiting consideration in the Energy and Commerce Committees, the Education and Labor Committee, and the Ways and Means Committee.
An earlier draft of the bill was introduced in 2003 and again in 2005 by Sen. Olympia Snowe, a Republican from Maine. Both bills passed the Senate overwhelmingly but never came to a vote due to opposition in the House.
The bill was also reintroduced in the US Senate last night and will be marked up this week.

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