U.S. Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL-13th) today issued the following statement after the President signed into law H.R. 493, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA):
"This is a momentous occasion. After years of wrangling, we finally have a law on the books to protect Americans from genetic discrimination. It's been a long road, and I'd like to congratulate my colleagues Congresswoman Slaughter and Senators Snowe, Enzi, and Kennedy on this hard-fought victory.
"I'd also like to thank the constituents from my district that talked to me about how genetic discrimination was affecting their lives. They would tell me how desperately they wanted to get a genetic test because of a family history of cancer or some other disease. But they couldn't take advantage of gene-based medicine because they might lose their job or health insurance - something their families simply couldn't afford.
"This bill changes all that. It finally opens up the immense life- and cost-saving potential of the Human Genome Project. Americans now have the freedom to take advantage of amazing advances in genetic mapping - without having to fear for their job or health coverage. Armed with this knowledge, patients and their doctors can monitor for high-risk conditions and use preventative medicine to stop diseases before they become life-threatening, not after.
"Perhaps most importantly, it will dramatically reduce the chronic care costs that are crippling Medicare and Medicaid and raising the price of coverage for everyone.
"This is a long-overdue update to laws that simply haven't kept pace with modern medicine. No one should fear for their job or health coverage because of the genes they were born with, and now they won't have to."