House Genetic Protection Bill Reintroduced by Bipartisan Group

January 22, 2007 ( - A bipartisan Congressional coalition has reintroduced a measure barring group health plans and insurers from not granting coverage for a healthy person or demanding higher premiums based only on a genetic predisposition to a specific disease.

According to a Web statementfrom Representative Judy Biggert (R-Illinois), the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) (H.R. 493), also bars employers from using individuals’ genetic information when making hiring, firing, job placement or promotion decisions.

Biggert and Representative Louise Slaughter (D-New York) announced the reintroduction of the bill that also has as primary sponsors Representative Anna Eshoo (D-California) and Representative Greg Walden (R-Oregon).

“We will never unlock the great promise of the Human Genome Project if Americans are too paranoid to get genetic testing,” said Biggert, chief sponsor of the legislation in the 109th Congress, according to her statement. “Without the protections offered by H.R. 493, these fears will persist, research at NIH will slow, and Americans will never realize the benefits of gene-based medicines.”

According to the statement President Bush has already backed the measure. The Senate has passed the bill unanimously twice in recent years, the statement said (See Genetic Discrimination Bill Passes US Senate ).