WASHINGTON, DC - House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer released the following statement today in support of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which passed the House this afternoon with nearly unanimous support:
"I strongly support this historic, bipartisan legislation – the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) – which is the product of more than a dozen years of work and which is long overdue.
"The simple fact is, this bill will protect individuals from being discriminated against – by both insurers and employers – on the basis of genetic information.
"Under this legislation, employers will not be allowed to consider genetic information when making decisions about hiring, firing, promotions and job assignments. Nor will insurers be allowed to consider genetic information when making decisions about eligibility, premium levels, and applying pre-existing condition exclusions to policies.
"In other words, insurers cannot raise premiums or deny coverage based on genetic information.
"These prohibitions will not only protect individuals from discrimination, but also will trigger advances in genetic research.
"More than one-third of people with a family history of a disease have declined to participate in studies on genetic testing – because they are afraid their genetic information will be misused.
"This legislation provides critical safeguards and protections for that information, and, as a result, will contribute greatly to the advancement of personalized medicine.
"The NIH National Human Genome Research Institute, for example, has said that it believes legislation that provides comprehensive protection against all forms of genetic discrimination is needed to make sure that biomedical research continues to advance.
"We need GINA to make sure that the Human Genome Project reaches its full potential.
"Furthermore, let me note that the more than 500 proponents of this legislation include diverse groups such as the Cleveland Clinic, Eli Lily, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the National Education Association.
"These groups and organizations believe that this legislation will help usher in an age of genetic medicine in which DNA tests might help predict if a person is at risk of a disease, and encourage people to take action to prevent it.
"This landmark legislation’s protections will help enable our medical and scientific communities to improve their vital research and potentially make critical medical breakthroughs that will improve the quality of life for this generation and future ones."