MANAGED CARE March 2005. ©MediMedia USA
The U.S. Senate voted 98–0 last month for a bill stating that employers and health plans may not deny coverage based on genetic information, but the parallel bill in the House never made it out of committee.
Still, there's little doubt that a movement is under way. The House bill, after all, had 242 sponsors. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) says that she will introduce a new bill thanks, in part, to the Senate's action.
America's Health Insurance Plans, which opposed the original House bill, tells the Washington Times that it supports the Senate bill, which was sponsored by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) because it will not increase the likelihood of lawsuits and would allow health plans to more freely use genetic information for the sake of patients' health.
Meanwhile, Snowe tells CQ Today that,"It is of critical importance that people do not feel afraid to use available technologies that could save their lives just because they are worried about losing their health coverage and their jobs." She cites a National Institutes of Health report that 32 percent of women do not want genetic testing for breast cancer because they are concerned about insurance coverage.