Source Pravda.Ru

Genetic information now protected by law

Genetic information has currently become a way of getting easy money, but such practice was eliminated on May 21, 2008.

That day was marked by signing the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) into law designed to prohibit the improper use of genetic information in health insurance and employment in the United States.

It prohibits group health plans and health insurers from denying coverage to a healthy individual or charging that person higher premiums based solely on a genetic predisposition to developing a disease in the future. The legislation also bars employers from using individuals’ genetic information when making hiring, firing, job placement, or promotion decisions. Senator Ted Kennedy called it the "first major new civil rights bill of the new century".

Along with an overview of the topic, the NIH National Human Genome Research Institute states that “legislation that gives comprehensive protection against all forms of genetic discrimination is necessary to ensure that biomedical research continues to advance. Similarly, it believes that such legislation is necessary so that patients are comfortable availing themselves to genetic diagnostic tests".

The Coalition for Genetic Fairness presents some arguments for genetic nondiscrimination. As of 2007, their argument makes the claim that because all humans have genetic anomalies, this would prevent them from accessing medication and health insurance. The Coalition also cites the potential for misuse of genetic information.

The National Association of Manufacturers, the National Retail Federation, the Society for Human Resource Management, and United States Chamber of Commerce and other members of the Genetic Information NonDiscrimination in Employment Coalition say the proposed legislation is overly broad and would do little to rectify inconsistent state laws and hence might increase frivolous litigation and/or punitive damages as a result of ambiguous record-keeping and other technical requirements. In addition, they are concerned that it would force employers to offer health plan coverage of all treatments for genetically-related conditions.

While GINA has been cited as a strong step forward, some say that the legislation does not go far enough in enabling personal control over your genetic testing results.

In addition health officials appeal to passing tests in professional medical environment only and eliminating the practice of “at-home genetic tests”, thus preventing misunderstanding, inaccuracy inadequate treatment and anxiety.

Photo: ocw.tufts.edu