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Just who is GINA?

GINA actually isn’t a who, it’s a what.

As in the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, a new law signed by President Bush yesterday.

As discrimination laws go, it’s a first: it’s an anticipatory law that forbids something before it starts happening. GINA says that any genetic information can’t be used against someone in obtaining health insurance or employment. Such data could show someone is predisposed to getting cancer or having heart problems. An insurance company could hike premiums or a company could decide not to hire.

The measure, which had been kicking around Congress since 1995, got through the Senate unanimously and received only one “no” vote in the House of Representatives.

The Washington Post has a report on Bush’s signing ceremony; he paid tribute to Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., who had been a strong backer of the measure.

The law firm of Troutman Sanders LLP earlier today was circulating a quick fact sheet on GINA, outlining the impact on group health plans and on employers.

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