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Vermont Gets in on the Act

Last month, Massachusetts made the news when legislators introduced a bill to protect the genetic information and privacy of the commonwealth's citizens. Now, Vermont is getting on the act, says Genomics Law Report's Dan Vorhaus — it has introduced its own genetic protection act. The Vermont bill closely resembles the one from Massachusetts, Vorhaus says. It emphasizes the protection of genetic information and the right of the individual to consider his or her genome as "personal property" that could be of some value to others. "After codifying property rights in genetic information, the Vermont Act ... goes on to require that any individual engaged in genetic research or commerce be 'made aware both orally and in writing that his or her donation is a commodity and is of some material value,'" Vorhaus says. But, the Vermont legislators may have overreached in some areas, he adds. For example, he says that the act would require any medical record or report produced by a hospital, doctor, pharmacist, and so on containing genetic information to become the sole property of the patient and may not be released to anyone without written consent. This would seem to conflict with federal law, specifically, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which says that health providers are not required to get permission for certain uses of patient records, including genetic information. The bill is still being debated, Vorhaus adds, and it's not yet clear how much support it has within the Vermont state legislature.

The Scan

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