Brandon Keim wrote a recent blog about the GINA, the Genetic Information
Non-Discrimination Act which was passed by the US House on the 25th of
April. His actual article can be seen at:
This bill is not new to Congress! The Supporters of GINA have been laboring and
lobbying for its approval for well over 12 years. In order for the bill to be enacted it
still needs to be passed by the Senate and then ratified by President Bush.
In prior years GINA has passed the Senate and President Bush did
promise to sign the bill. However, the bill did not make it out of the House. The
insurance companies, some manufacturing associations & the Chamber of
Commerce have lobbied hard against its passage. The fact that it has now passed is
a huge milestone.
Increasingly, we are seeing that many diseases are genetically linked. Genetics will be used
as a routine medical ‘tool’ in the not so distant future. Predications about the potential of
an individual person falling victim to a disease and how that disease might progress will come
into the main stream of medical practice.
Unfortunately, without GINA’s protection, many insurance companies and employers will
use personal genetic information when making hiring decisions and when deciding whether
or not someone is insurable. Many of us would be subject to multiple layers of discrimination and many more of us would elect to forgo genetic evaluations, thus compromising our health care.
Some states do already have some non-discrimination policies in place,
but many did not. GINA will provide all individuals in the United States with basic protections. With the assurance of these protections we can all be free to take full advantage of the amazing increase in knowledge about our genetic make up.
Joel T. Nowak, MA, MSW
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