Bill promises genetic privacy for US citizens

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Posted by Sadie from D006067.N1.Vanderbilt.Edu ( on Thursday, May 29, 2003 at 8:48PM :

Nature 423, 472 (29 May, 2003)

News in Brief
Bill promises genetic privacy for US citizens

[SAN FRANCISCO] Discrimination on the basis of genes is about to become illegal in the United States. After being held up for six years by wrangling over the details, a bill that sets new genetic-privacy standards has cleared a key Senate committee, and is now expected to pass without further challenge. President George W. Bush has said he will sign the bill.

Genetic testing can help doctors to estimate a patient's susceptibility to a variety of diseases, including breast cancer and Parkinson's disease. But many people refuse the tests amid fears that a positive result could see them forced to pay higher insurance premiums or even lose their jobs. The new bill bans such discrimination.

Employers and insurance companies had objected to a blanket ban on the use of genetic information. The compromise reached on 20 May allows insurers to collect genetic data on patients with genetic disorders for the purpose of managing their care. Employers will be able to use DNA testing to check for adverse effects from exposure to workplace chemicals or radiation.

-- Sadie
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