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Anti-Genetic Discrimination Bill Passes in US Senate

Genetic discrimination is one form of discrimination the US Senate can agree to disagree with. The Senate has unanimously passed a preemptive anti-discrimination bill, which will prevent employers, unions, and health insurance companies from discriminating using genetic information. Only patients and doctors will have access to tests that reveal predisposition to diseases.

Besides protecting citizens, scientists believe the bill could save lives. With the legal protection, people will more likely pursue genetic testing, and improve their chances of surviving hereditary illnesses like cancer, diabetes, and heart diseases.

Health insurance companies, assured that their current practices would not be threatened, supported the bill, while the US Chamber of Commerce opposed it.

Is discrimination based on pre-existing health conditions, which is common practice today, that much different from discriminating based on a predisposition to a health condition? With the latest legal assurance, would you get your DNA tested to know which diseases you may face in the future?


Join The Conversation
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 9 years
No DNA testing for me. I don't think it can really predict anything. Just because someone carries a certain gene, it doesn't automatically mean it will be triggered. The person's lifestyle (as far as his or her health) and environment plays an important role, too.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
So tru Kim
Kimpossible Kimpossible 9 years
"Society may deem that it is easier to change the gene than to change our ways." Thats pretty darn sad. It is sad but much of society is already like that. People don't want to have to work for anything. And change?? Are you kidding, it's not them who has to change - it's everyone else.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
No juju I'll have to check that one out.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
That's good, I appreciate Congress doing this although I still don't trust insurance companies not to try to hold any genetic tests against me. Even though doctor's say that certain diseases aren't definitely genetic my family has a high number of people suffering with them. Multiple Sclerosis runs in my family as does Parkinson's, Alzheimer, ALS. Because some of my cousins are Research Scientists and Doctor's specializing in these diseases my siblings, nephews, nieces, cousins and myself have been asked by different research organiztions to participate in genetic studies but we all always decline the offer of genetic tested. It's too risky because if our names are connected to the tests then any insurance company can get access to that information or if you develop that disease and they find out you had a genetic test that said you would develop the disease then it's a pre-existing condition and excluded from your coverage. We all fear that if the genetic tests do show that we are genetically pre-disposed to any of these diseases or have them but haven't yet developed symptoms that we will all be dropped from our respective medical coverages or be charged higher premiums and we would definitely all be prevented from obtained long-term disability insurance and health insurance. After watching different family members deal with their diseases WITH insurance and seeing how much care would cost if they didn't have it, the consensus is clear for us - no not until insurance companies are forbidden from holding that info against you. It always tore my brother-in-law up that he couldn't get life insurance coverage when he was younger (25) because by the time he had a good job that afforded him the ability to pay for it and family he wanted to protect he was diagnosised with MS. No life insurance company or health insurance would cover him from then on. Thank goodness he had been drafted into the Army during the Viet Nam Conflict despite having MS because the US government ended up having to pay him disability, injury and provide free health care for him and his children for the rest of each of their lives because they exacerbate his medical condition by sending him to a war zone. My nephews would like to know whether they are going to develop MS like their dad especially after their older brother was just diagnosised with MS four years ago. They live with that dagger hanging over their heads. They live as if when they turn 30 like their brother and dad, that they won't be able to walk or work any more. It would be nice to know if we are pre-disposed to these diseases but since we cannot expect to be protected but instead discriminate against by companies and even employers- we just don't risk it.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
Oh there could be a Donkey pie cutter too!
juju4 juju4 9 years
Hypnoticmix - have you read the play "The Twilight of the Golds"? It address the very same issue. I believe it may have been made into a movie as well. With regards to this bill, I think it is great. I deal with insurance and firmly believe that HIPAA doesn't go far enough....and that eventually an majority of Americas will eventually have some sort of pre-existing condition. It's partially just a part of aging, but it also has to do with the declining health of the nation. Just thinking of all the children that are going to be diabetic before they hit adulthood makes me shudder. Being pro-active about one's health is so important....I am glad to know that people won't be penalized for being tested.
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
"23AndMe will decode your DNA for $1,000. " - I'll decode your DNA for only 5 easy payments of $99.95. Act now and I'll throw in a free potatoes slicer that lets you makes thousands of Giuliani Fries. (And yes, those are french fries in the shape of Guilianai. :) )
flyinggrip flyinggrip 9 years
Fear and misunderstanding about genetics can be a real hindreance to people who could really benefit from having genetic testing. We are no where near having the ability to geneticly engenieer a baby. However, the field of genetics has made huge leaps and bounds in understading our DNA and how to use it to prevent people from developing cancer or other disases.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Yes knowledge is definitely a double edged sword. As it relates to the article not sure if it's just a state law here in Ca. or federal but as far as pre-existing issues employers and insurence providers are not allowed to ask.
flyinggrip flyinggrip 9 years
There is actully a Jewish community that uses genetic testing as a matchaking tool because of the very high carrier rates for several genetic disorders in the Jewish population.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
"Even if it's choosing the sex boy or girl that doesn't sit right with me." That does not sit well with me either. I have issues with so much of the technology they use when it comes to mother and baby. So much of it, just does not have research to warrant the use.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
"Society may deem that it is easier to change the gene than to change our ways." Thats pretty darn sad.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Good question cine_lover. Even if it's choosing the sex boy or girl that doesn't sit right with me. As far as engineering ones child to be hetero or homosexual it's unfortunately based on bigotry/discrimination or in some cases the parents might not want their kids to grow up and deal with certain issues that homosexual children have to face. Homosexual adolescents have a very high rate of suicide. Society may deem that it is easier to change the gene than to change our ways.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Thanks Jillness.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
Why would anyone engineer your child's sexuality? They are what God gives you. Technological advancements like those really scare me. I am torn on whether or not I would get DNA testing, because I would really like to know if I carry the Breast Cancer gene.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Hmmm demanding a genetic test before picking a mate..
flyinggrip flyinggrip 9 years
The passing of this bill is a hugely important step in the field of medical genetics. It will allow people to gettesting that will enable them to get proper treatment and prevention for diseases like breast and colon cancer without fear of losing their jobs or insurance coverage. It is also very appropraite that this bill got passed yesterday, one day before DNA day!
Jillness Jillness 9 years
I love the pooch in your picture, hyponoticmix! That would be tragic if people engineered their child's sexuality. Sigh.
LibertySugar LibertySugar 9 years
You can't outlaw discrimination in the dating world. Do you think people will start demanding these genetic tests before they chose a mate? . . . how romantic. ;-)
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
I agree with the bill. I really can't see anyone disagreeing with it. As far as discriminating pre-existing vs. pre-disposed conditions as far as I'm concerned both are wrong. However, discrimination based on pre-disposed would really show just what kind of jackals the health industry is. Yes I would get a DNA test. What I'm afraid of is the day when parents start genetically engineering their children. This would be a beneficial tool in avoiding birth defects. But then when they start giving them the perfect nose, choosing the color of their eyes, hair strait/wavy/curly, in'y/out'y etc. this goes too far. As a gay man the prospect that we will have the ability to engineer homosexuality out of existence with in the next 20 to 30 years and that there are people out there that would make that choice makes my eyes water. Who's going to sing the male parts on Broadway? Who's going to design those fabulous gowns ladies and help you decorate your home? Who is going to plan the most sinfully divatastic weddings ever?! Just remember this if you find out your child is gay.
LibertySugar LibertySugar 9 years
23AndMe will decode your DNA for $1,000. You can read about it here.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
I have known 3 women from the same family that all had breast cancer, but none of them had the "breast cancer gene". It kind of makes you wonder what the information really describes. I think it is good that they can't use genetic testing against you. Sooner or later we will all die of something, and for the majority it will be a disease (not accidents or murder).
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
would it be more fair to discriminate based on health issues we can control, like weight etc?
CitizenSugar CitizenSugar 9 years
kia, I think it was called GATTACA which I only remember because I was learning about DNA at the time, and it's a word made up of all the chemicals in it. Though, you're right, probably a dumb movie. ;)
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