Clinton Endorses Gene Legislation

Proposals would prevent health insurance companies from denying coverage based on genetic inheritance

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: President Clinton presented legislation today which would bar health insurance companies from denying people health coverage on the basis of their genetic inheritance. With genetic testing for killers like breast cancer on the rise, such discrimination is "a life-threatening abuse of a potentially life-saving discovery," Clinton said. The President's remarks were echoed in a Department of Health and Human Services task force report which cautions that the benefits of genetic testing may never be realized if Americans decline them out of fear the information may be used against them. Clinton's legislation builds on existing bills in the House and Senate by pinpointing when genetic information can be disclosed (for biomedical research, for example) and by specifying entities covered by state insurance laws (such as employers) who have no right to the information.