Senate passes Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2007

By a vote of 95-0 this afternoon, the Senate passed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2007, as amended. The five Senators not voting were Clinton (D-NY), DeMint (R-SC), Gregg (R-NH), McCain (R-AZ), and Obama (D-IL).

Prior to passage of the bill, Senator Snowe introduced an amendment to H.R. 493 (SA 4573 [pdf]) that passed.

The bill still must be approved by the House before being sent to the President, but the House is expected to pass it quickly. The bill had passed the House in 2007 by a vote of 420-3, but was held up in the Senate until now because Tom Coburn (R-OK) put a hold on the bill. Senator Coburn claimed that as it was worded, the bill would subject employers who provide their own insurance to employees to greater risks of lawsuits.

The Genetics & Public Policy Center issued a press release following passage in the Senate:

“After a very long wait, Americans can now be confident that their genetic information cannot be used by health insurers or employers in harmful or hurtful ways,” says Kathy Hudson, director of the Genetics and Public Policy Center, established at Johns Hopkins University by The Pew Charitable Trusts. “Our challenge now is to make sure that doctors and patients are aware of these new protections so that fear of discrimination never again stands in the way of a decision to take a genetic test that could save a life.”

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