Genetic Testing: Scientific Background for Policymakers [February 20, 2014]   [open pdf - 306KB]

"Congress has considered, at various points in time, numerous pieces of legislation that relate to genetic and genomic technology and testing. These include bills addressing genetic discrimination in health insurance and employment; personalized medicine; the patenting of genetic material; and the oversight of clinical laboratory tests (in vitro diagnostics), including genetic tests. The focus on these issues signals the growing importance of public policy issues surrounding the clinical and public health implications of new genetic technology. As genetic technologies proliferate and are increasingly used to guide clinical treatment, these public policy issues are likely to continue to garner attention. Understanding the basic scientific concepts underlying genetics and genetic testing may help facilitate the development of more effective public policy in this area. […] Policymakers may need to balance concerns about the potential use and misuse of genetic information with the potential of genetics and genetic technology to improve care delivery, for example by personalizing medical care and treatment of disease. In addition, policymakers face decisions about the balance of federal oversight and regulation of genetic tests, patients' safety, and innovation in this area. Finally, the need for and degree of federal support for research to develop a comprehensive evidence base to facilitate the integration of genetic testing into clinical practice (for example, to support coverage decisions by health insurers) may be debated."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL33832
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