Congress has pried one weapon from the fingers of health insurers and employers – the misuse of genetic testing results. In a stunning display of willpower against powerful business and insurance lobbyists, the House voted 414-1 and the Senate 95-0.
If you’ve been wondering whatever became of presidential candidate Ron Paul, he was the one opposing bonehead, saying, “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.”
Bush doesn’t even plan to be an obstruction on this one.
Protecting people from having genetic test results held against them is hardly a new concept. Forty-one states already have laws against insurers doing it, and 31 states extend it to the workplace.
Nor will this law necessarily change anything without some landmark lawsuits favoring individuals. It’s a given that insurers and employers will continue trying to get their mitts on such information. They’ll just be sneakier about using it and make it more difficult for anyone to prove they did.
The only way to make real progress in nullifying anyone’s health status – real or just genetically possible – is to completely sever healthcare from employment, and to make healthcare affordable and available to everyone by removing the bureaucracy of health insurance altogether.
But this vote does indicate that every member of Congress – except Ron Paul – realizes their job security depends on getting serious about this mess and fixing it.