March 10, 2008 — The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) was passed in the US House of Representatives last week, as a section of the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act of 2007. GINA prevents insurers from denying health coverage to individuals based only on genetic predisposition to a disease. In addition, GINA prevents the use of genetic information by employers to reach decisions about hiring, firing, or promotion.
However, HIPAA did not forbid health insurers to charge higher rates based on genetic information, collect genetic information, or require genetic testing. States have taken some matters into their own hands: Although remaining consistent with HIPAA, 41 states have adopted laws regarding genetic discrimination in health insurance, and 31 have legislation concerning genetic discrimination in employment.