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Barton votes against genetic discrimination

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, has weighed in on a bill that prohibits discrimination based on genetic testing.
According to Congresssional Quarterly Today (CQ Today), Barton supports the bill but expressed reservations about it, along with other Republicans.
The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report stated last week that Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, of which Barton is the ranking Republican and former chairman, “eventually agreed to support the bill, but they continued to object to what they described as its overly broad language."
The legislation that passed last Thursday, CQ Today reported, “would prohibit group health plans from collecting genetic information and from requesting, requiring or purchasing such information for insurance underwriting.”
The publication further stated that the bill provides that insurers will be prevented from acquiring genetic data prior to individuals enrolling in health plans, and that employers would not be allowed to collect or utilize genetic statistics in hiring or firing employees.
Although the House Ways and Means Committee passed the legislation by unanimous voice vote on Wednesday, Republicans on the commerce committee delayed voting, raising questions about its open-ended language.
"If it becomes law, it creates a new civil rights violation,” Barton said, “and creates, in some cases, a new class action lawsuit potential.”
Yet President Bush, according to Health and Human Services secretary Mike Leavitt in a recent Washington Times interview, supports the genetic anti-discrimination bill.
"Every one of us is biologically unique," Leavitt said. "We haven’t had the knowledge to deliver health care at that kind of individual level. That’s what’s changing. We need to establish a general law to ensure genetic information cannot be misused.”
CQ Today wrote that a floor vote in the House would most likely be forthcoming after the April recess, although some sources indicated “a vote could occur as early as next week.”

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Posted by on Mar 29 2007. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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