Genetic Non-Discrimination Bill Signed into Law

May 28, 2008

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A bill prohibiting discrimination based on genetic tests has become law, thanks in part to Academy members advocating for it during Neurology on the Hill this past March.

The Genetic Discrimination Ban makes it illegal for employers to make decisions on whether to hire or fire potential employees based on the results of genetic tests. In addition, health insurers can no longer deny coverage or charge higher premiums simply because of genetic test results.

President Bush said the bill "protects our citizens from having genetic information misused . . . without undermining the basic premise of the insurance industry."

Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY), who worked for 13 years to get this nondiscrimination legislation passed, said, "Americans have been waiting a very long time for the protections that this bill provides, and I am so proud that the wait is over. I'm especially excited to watch the advancements in science and medicine that will surely follow this enactment." (source: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.)

Provisions on this bill for health insurers take place exactly one year from the date the bill was signed, while employment provisions take place 18 months after the signing. Congressional leaders said this bill will help facilitate genetic testing opportunities and could lead to more preventive and cost-saving treatments.

The Genetic Discrimination Ban is one of several issues Academy members advocated for during attendance at NOH. Thank you to those who took time to make your voice heard on this important issue. Taking advantage of events such as this or learning more about programs such as Vocus shows that together we can make a difference.