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Federal Legislation on Genetic Discrimination in Insurance or Employment

Below are the past relevant laws and pending legislation protections against genetic discrimination.

On October 14, 2003, after years of negotiations, the U.S. Senate passed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2003 [] (See Bill Summary of S. 1053) by a vote of 95-0. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee had passed the bill by voice vote in May 2003 and no major changes were made when the bill came to the floor. This is the first time the Senate has passed a stand alone, bipartisan genetic nondiscrimination bill. The bill would prevent health insurers and employers from using genetic information to determine eligibility, set premiums or hire and fire people. It is now hoped that the U.S. House of Representatives will take up the bill.

In March 2002, Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) introduced a bill, S. 1995, Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2002. Senator Snowe's bill included an employment section, revised insurance provision and updated definitions. Senator Snowe reintroduced her bill in May 2003, which is now known as the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2003 (S. 1053 []) This bill served as the basis for the bill that the HELP Committee passed on May 21, 2003, but the committee altered it substantially.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) has introduced his own bill, S. 16 [] (in the 107th Congress: S.318 []). In the House of Representatives, Louise Slaughter (D-NY) introduced a very similar bill to that of Senator Daschle, H.R. 1910 [] and it has over 200 cosponsors. In the 107th Congress, this bill garnered 266 co-sponsors, but it was not taken up. The hope is that the Congress will be able to pass a genetic anti-discrimination bill in this the year that the full human genome sequence was essentially completed.

House Committees Consider Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2005

On March 10, 2005 a bipartisan group of over 100 members of Congress introduced the "Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2005," HR 1227 [], which is identical to S. 306 [] that passed the Senate by a vote of 98-0.

The bill was introduced by Representatives Judy Biggert (R-IL), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Bob Ney (R-OH), and Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and includes a group of bipartisan cosponsors. It was referred to the Committee on Education and Labor, the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and the Committee on Ways and Means, "for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned."

The United States Senate unanimously passed S. 306, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2005 on February 17, 2005, by a vote of 98-0. This bill is virtually identical to S. 1053, which passed in the last Congress.

Federal Legislation Archive

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Last Reviewed: August 7, 2012