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Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (Gina)

May 21, 2008

President George W. Bush signed into law today the the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). GINA - the first and only federal legislation that will provide protections against discrimination based on an individual's genetic information in health insurance coverage and employment settings.

"Today marks the beginning of a new era in health care," said Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY). "Americans can finally take advantage of the tremendous potential of genetic research without the fear that their own genetic information will be used against them."

Just a few weeks ago, GINA received overwhelming support in both the Senate, with a unanimous vote of approval, and the House of Representatives, where the legislation was passed by a landslide vote of 414-1.

The health insurance protections offered by GINA are expected to roll out 12 months after the bill is signed, whereas the employment protections will be fully realized in 18 months.

Specifically, the legislation protects against genetic discrimination by health insurers or employers by:

  • Prohibiting group health plans and issuers offering coverage on the group or individual market from basing eligibility determinations or adjusting premiums or contributions on the basis of genetic information. They cannot request, require or purchase the results of genetic tests, or disclose genetic information.
  • Prohibiting issuers of Medigap policies from adjusting pricing or conditioning eligibility on the basis of genetic information. They cannot request, require or purchase the results of genetic tests, or disclose genetic information.
  • Prohibiting employers from firing, refusing to hire, or otherwise discriminating with respect to compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment. Employers may not request, require or purchase genetic information, and may not disclose genetic information. Similar provisions apply to employment agencies and labor organizations.