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Genetic bias vote in Senate, finally

It appears that the US Senate is going to finally cast its vote on a 15-year-old bill with wide bipartisan support against genetic discrimination. According to Scientists and Engineers for America, Senator Tom Coburn has linkurl:agreed to lift his hold;http://sefora.org/2008/04/22/gina-cleared-for-a-vote-in-the-senate/ on the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, or GINA, which prevents insurers and employers from discriminating based on genetics. The bill has passed the House of Represen

By | April 22, 2008

It appears that the US Senate is going to finally cast its vote on a 15-year-old bill with wide bipartisan support against genetic discrimination. According to Scientists and Engineers for America, Senator Tom Coburn has linkurl:agreed to lift his hold;http://sefora.org/2008/04/22/gina-cleared-for-a-vote-in-the-senate/ on the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, or GINA, which prevents insurers and employers from discriminating based on genetics. The bill has passed the House of Representatives, and has the president's support. "This is the first forward looking piece of civil rights legislation in US history," says linkurl:Michael Stebbins;http://www.the-scientist.com/2008/4/1/35/1/ on the SEA's Web site. "The protections it provides are essential for establishing any kind of real personalized medicine." Update (posted April 24): The Senate passed GINA today, not surprisingly.
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Comments

Avatar of: Joshua Sloan

Joshua Sloan

Posts: 9

April 23, 2008

I am glad this is getting the support it deserves. The quote "This is the first forward looking piece of civil rights legislation in US history," is a bit odd though. I am pretty sure we had this little period about 50 years ago when civil rights legislations were being passed too.
Avatar of: Matthew Costa

Matthew Costa

Posts: 3

April 23, 2008

I think that when he says "This is the first forward looking piece of civil rights legislation in US history," he is referring to an issue that may not be a large problem yet, but would be a civil rights issue when genetic information becomes more readily availible. Previous civil rights legislation dealt with then current civil rights infractions.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 2

April 24, 2008

Just so long as non-discrimination doesn't mean an inability to separate people into low-risk and high-risk groups. I agree that they shouldn't be denied coverage, but insurance is about determining the probabilities that a claim will be made and charging them an appropriate amount to cover that risk. It's just as unfair to ask people with a low risk for disease to pay higher premiums to cover their neighbor who has a high probability of requiring treatment in the future, whether it be because of poor habits or "bad genes".
Avatar of: Tom Wanamaker

Tom Wanamaker

Posts: 4

April 24, 2008

I disagree with the previous post regarding the prospect of differentiated premiums based on genetic risk factors. By allowing insurers to jack up the costs to those at higher risk, they can achieve a de facto denial of coverage. \n\nThe previous post indicated that it wasn't fair to have someone with low risk pay the same premium as one with high risk, but what if you were at high risk yourself? One has a level of control over lifestyle, but not a bit over one's genetic endowment. (I would agree, however, with the prospect of having higher premiums for those at genetically high risk who do NOT engage in lifestyle/diet/exercise choices that reduce their overall risk of being affected.) \n\nAs it is now, insurance companies calculate premiums based upon overall risk factors without including the genetic component. That is a fair way to do things. Nailing somebody who is already at risk for some genetic condition with higher premiums is just not humane.
Avatar of: Ogechi Ikediobi

Ogechi Ikediobi

Posts: 4

April 29, 2008

This is certainly a step in the right direction.

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