By a 95-0 vote, the Senate has passed a bill that would ban employers and insurance companies from discriminating against people based on any results learned from genetic testing. The bill is also supported by the House and President Bush, so it is expected to become law.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “For genetic research to fulfill its true potential, patients need strong protections against genetic discrimination. GINA ( Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act) will establish strong protections against discrimination based on genetic information in health insurance and employment. As a result, patients can receive the best possible medical treatments without having to fear that genetic information will be used against them by their insurers or by their employers.”
The Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) said, “It’s the first civil rights bill of the new century of the life sciences. With its passage, we take a quantum leap forward in preserving the value of new genetic technology and protecting the basic rights of every American.”
The Republican Ranking Member of the HELP Committee Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) said, “This bill will help fulfill the promise of genetic research to save lives and reduce health care costs, by establishing basic protections that encourage individuals to take advantage of genetic screening, counseling, testing, and new therapies, without fearing that this information will be misused or abused.”
This bill really is a no brainer, and if Republicans and Democrats can’t at least agree that genetic testing is good, and that people deserve protection from the abuse of any information gained from their tests, then Washington is in even bigger trouble than we thought. Now if only Republicans would agree that women deserve the same amount of pay as men, we just might get our politics back to the 20th Century.