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House group revives genetic discrimination bill


WASHINGTON--A bipartisan group of members of the U.S. House of Representatives has reintroduced legislation that would ban discrimination based solely on a person's genetic predisposition to specific illnesses.

Reps. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., and Judy Biggert, R-Ill., announced the reintroduction in the House of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act--H.R. 493--on Monday. The measure would make it illegal for group health plans and health insurers to deny coverage to otherwise healthy individuals--or to charge those people higher health insurance premiums--solely because of genetic predisposition to a specific disease.

The legislation also would prohibit employers from using individuals' genetic information when making hiring, firing, job placement or promotion decisions.

"This bill is the culmination of a bipartisan effort to prohibit the improper use of genetic information in workforce and insurance decisions," said Rep. Slaughter in a statement announcing the reintroduction of the bill. "In the 12 years since I first introduced GINA, the need for this legislation has grown exponentially. Scientific research has advanced so quickly that we cannot afford to wait any longer. This bill will allow us to preserve America's health and protect our scientific edge, all while defending the privacy of our citizens."