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Congress reached an agreement clearing the way for a bill to prohibit discrimination by employers and health insurers on the basis of genetic tests.Proponents say the new law, more than a dozen years in the making, would help usher in an age of genetic medicine, in which DNA tests might help predict if a person is at risk of a disease, allowing action to be taken to prevent it.Some of the tests already exist, like one for breast cancer risk, and new ones are being introduced almost every month. But backers of the legislation say many people are afraid of taking such tests because they fear the results would be used to deny them employment or health insurance.“This bill removes a significant obstacle to the advancement of personalized medicine,” said Edward Abrahams, the executive director of the Personalized Medicine Coalition. His group is an organization of drug and diagnostic companies, academic institutions and patient groups that advocate using genetic information to choose the most appropriate treatment for each patient.The agreement would end a 13-year odyssey for the bill, first proposed in 1995 by Louise Slaughter, a House Democrat from western New York, who has been promoting it ever since.The bill, called the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, or GINA, has had broad support in Congress but has never managed to pass both houses in the same session.
* Employers can't deny you a job because you're genetically predisposed to develop a particular disease or condition. * Insurers can't use your genetic profile to deny coverage or raise your premiums. * Thus protected, you can benefit from medical genetic testing without worrying about the results being used against you. * People will be less reluctant to take part in genetic research. This will help scientists, and -- as the complex interplay between genes, environment and development is better understood -- you.