|Bush: Ban 'Genetic Discrimination'|
A person's genetic makeup should is no reason not to hire them or to deny them health insurance President Bush told the nation on Saturday.
In his radio address to the nation on June 23, 2001, the president said that recent advances in science leading to the unlocking of the human genetic code have also led to potential discrimination against persons whose genetic history shows a susceptibility to certain diseases.
"[T]his knowledge of the code of life has the potential to be abused," stated the president. "Employers could be tempted to deny a job based on a person's genetic profile. Insurance companies might use that information to deny an application for coverage, or charge excessive premiums."
While researchers have mapped many serious and costly diseases, including cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's, diabetes and cystic fibrosis to certain genetic patterns, President Bush stated that it was unfair to discriminate against persons based on what he referred to as "little more than medical speculation."
"A genetic predisposition toward cancer or heart disease does not mean the condition will develop. To deny employment or insurance to a healthy person based only on a predisposition violates our country's belief in equal treatment and individual merit," stated President Bush.
"Just as we have addressed discrimination based on race, gender and age, we must now prevent discrimination based on genetic information," he added.
As governor of Texas, Bush signed state legislation prohibiting discrimination in employment and group health plans based on a person's genetic characteristics.
In the early part of his address, Bush repeated his hope that Congress would pass his version of the patients' rights bill for health plan members now being debated in the Senate.
"I want that bill to be strong and effective," said the president. "A woman should be able to visit her gynecologist, and parents their children's pediatrician, without going through a gatekeeper. A person should be able to see a specialist when he or she needs one, and to get emergency treatment at the nearest emergency room."
"The system should not favor HMOs, and it should not favor trial lawyers. It should favor patients, with quick action to make sure they get the treatment they need," stated President Bush.
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