01.31.07

ENZI APPLAUDS HELP COMMITTEE APPROVAL OF BILL TO PREVENT GENETIC INFORMATION DISCRIMINATION

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Ranking Member of theSenate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today applauded the Committee’s vote to approve the “Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act,” a bill that will prohibit discrimination by health insurers and employers, who may attempt to use genetic information to discriminate against persons with potential health problems. “This bill prohibits genetic discrimination in health insurance and the workplace by barring health insurers and employers from requesting or using genetic information to take any action that would affect an employee’s health or employment benefits,” Enzi said. “This includes health insurance premiums, contribution amounts, and eligibility, as well as employment decisions like hiring, firing, job assignments, and promotions. “The ‘Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act’ will help fulfill the promise of genetic research to save lives and reduce health care costs, by establishing basic protections that will enable and encourage individuals to take advantage of genetic screening, counseling, testing, and new therapies, without the fear that this information will be misused or abused,” Enzi said. “I want to thank Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Chairman of the HELP Committee, for his leadership on this issue, and I look forward to sending it to the full Senate for a vote,” Enzi said. “I also want to thank Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), who has served as the Senate’s compass to keep us focused on this far-reaching issue that, if not addressed, will have long-term, possibly life-changing consequences for countless families and employers. I look forward to bringing this important bill before the full Senate for debate.” “As a former small businessman, I am sensitive to the concerns raised by some in the business community that this legislation might impose new liabilities on employers,” Enzi said. “However, I am confident that when critics become familiar with the provisions of this bill, they will see that, in fact, it protects both employees and employers by setting a standard of conduct that is easy to understand and easy to follow. We are far better off setting uniform, consistent rules of the road clearly and up front, rather than allowing them to be set piecemeal through litigation.” ####

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