Genetic policy in the United States

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Federal Legislation

The first of two pieces of federal legislation to directly address the use of genetic information in the United States was the Executive Order Protecting Federal Employees. Signed into law by U.S. President Bill Clinton on February 8, 2000, the Executive Order prohibited all federal agencies and departments from using genetic information to discriminate in the hiring or promoting of federal employees. The Executive Order was endorsed by the American Medical Association, the American College of Medical Genetics, the National Society of Genetic Counselors, and the Genetic Alliance. The Executive Order also provided explicit genetic privacy regulations within the federal government.[1]

The second piece of federal legislation to address the use of genetic information and discrimination in the United States was the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) of 2008. GINA protects U.S. citizens from genetic discrimination in employment as well as in health care and health insurance. The bill was signed into law on May 21, 2008 by President George W. Bush. Prior to the introduction of GINA in 2003, several bills of similar intent were introduced: the Genetic Privacy and Nondiscrimination Act of 1995,[2] the Genetic Fairness Act of 1996,[3] the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination in Health Insurance Act of 1995[4] and the Genetic Confidentiality and Nondiscrimination Act of 1996.[5]

State Legislation

Currently, legislation pertaining to the use of genetic information and genetic discrimination at the state level varies by state. The first state laws regarding genetic information were typically designed to prohibit genetic discrimination, including prohibiting employers from demanding workers and applicants to provide genetic information as a condition of their employment. More recent laws have permitted individuals to undergo genetic testing when that individual is filing a compensation claim or has requested the test to demonstrate susceptibility to potentially toxic substances.[1]

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