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Public Statements

Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act Of 2007

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


GENETIC INFORMATION NONDISCRIMINATION ACT OF 2007 -- (House of Representatives - April 25, 2007)

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Mr. PAUL. Madam Speaker, the supporters of H.R. 493, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, are right to be concerned over the possibility that third parties, such as the government or potential employers, will access an individual's genetic information without consent, and use that information to deny an individual health insurance or other benefits. I have long advocated repealing government laws and polices that allow third parties to access personal information. For example, I have worked to repeal the provision of Federal law giving the Federal Government the power to assign every American a ``unique medical health identifier.'' I also support repealing the phony ``medical privacy'' regulations that give law enforcement officials and state-favored private interests the right to access medical records at will.

Because of the Federal Government's poor record in protecting privacy, I do not believe the best way to address concerns about the misuse of genetic information is through intrusive Federal legislation. Uniform Federal mandates are a clumsy and ineffective way to deal with problems such as employers making hiring decisions on the basis of a potential employee's genetic profile. Imposing Federal mandates on private businesses merely raises the costs of doing business and thus reduces the employment opportunities for all citizens. A much better way to eliminate irrational discrimination is to rely on state and local regulation. Unlike the Federal Government, states and localities are able to tailor their regulations to fit the needs of their particular populaces. I would remind my colleagues that 34 states currently ban genetic discrimination in employment, while 46 states forbid health insurers from engaging in genetic discrimination. Clearly, the states are capable of addressing this issue without interference from Washington. My colleagues should also remember that Congress has no constitutional authority to forbid private sector employers from making hiring or other employment decisions on the basis of genetic information.

The best way to address the sponsors of H.R. 493's legitimate concerns is to put individuals back in control of the health care dollar. When individuals control the health care dollar they, not their employers, insurance companies or Health Maintenance Organizations, can make all health care decisions, including whether or not to share individual genetic histories with a potential employer, insurer, or other third party. Therefore, instead of creating more Federal regulations and bureaucracies, my colleagues should increase individual control of health care by passing legislation expanding Health Savings Accounts and individual health care tax credits and deductions.

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