NEW YORK, May 22 - A US Senate committee yesterday approved legislation that would prohibit insurance companies and employers from discriminating against people based on their genetic information, according to a news report.
The bill, which has bipartisan support, may encourage more people to undergo genetic and molecular-diagnostic testing.
At its heart, the legislation would prohibit insurers and employers from asking for genetic information or require people to undergo genetic testing, the Associated Press said. Consequently, it would also bar health insurers from using genetic information to deny coverage or to set premiums, and deny employers the opportunity to base hiring and firing decision on the basis of genetic data.
"Today, public policy catches up with science to ensure that all Americans can realize the promise of advances made in the field of genetic science," the AP quoted Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, as saying.
Health insurers and business groups claim "there is no evidence of abuse and the legislation is not needed," the AP said. "Federal nondiscrimination legislation has never been based on potential or theoretical discrimination, but, rather, on some appreciable history of actual discrimination," R. Bruce Josten of the US Chamber of Commerce said in a letter to Gregg, the AP reported.