Clinton Proposes $4 Million for Newborn Hearing Screening Universal newborn hearing screening edged closer to becoming reality last month when President Clinton proposed a $4 million initiative to support state grants for hearing screening programs. In light of past and present bipartisan congressional support, the sizeable White House request makes newborn hearing screening look like an idea whose ... ASHA News
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ASHA News  |   March 01, 1999
Clinton Proposes $4 Million for Newborn Hearing Screening
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Hearing Disorders / Special Populations / Early Identification & Intervention / ASHA News
ASHA News   |   March 01, 1999
Clinton Proposes $4 Million for Newborn Hearing Screening
The ASHA Leader, March 1999, Vol. 4, 1-2. doi:10.1044/leader.AN.04051999.1
The ASHA Leader, March 1999, Vol. 4, 1-2. doi:10.1044/leader.AN.04051999.1
Universal newborn hearing screening edged closer to becoming reality last month when President Clinton proposed a $4 million initiative to support state grants for hearing screening programs. In light of past and present bipartisan congressional support, the sizeable White House request makes newborn hearing screening look like an idea whose time has come.
According to the White House, the $4 million would fund 45 to 50 state and territorial grants to develop and expand newborn hearing screening programs. The grants would also link screening programs to community intervention, and monitor the impact of early detection and intervention on children, families and community service systems. Lastly, part of the appropriation would underwrite the new technology that would enable the states to conduct low-cost screenings on children prior to their release from the hospital.
The Administration’s proposal resembles a provision in a bill introduced last year by Rep. James Walsh (R-NY) for $13 million over two years; Walsh is expected to introduce a similar bill in the 106th Congress that will ask for a third year of funding. After years of tenacious campaigning by concerned consumers, audiologists, ASHA and policy makers, passage of some version of the Walsh Bill seems likely to occur in 1999.
Far from being a fait accompli, Clinton’s proposal was nevertheless praised by advocates as an endorsement of infant hearing screening by the White House. The Clinton Administration included the $4 million request in the fiscal year 2000 budget submitted to Congress for the Health Resources and Services Administration.
ASHA President Donna Geffner welcomed the Clinton Administration’s support of state-based hearing screening programs: “This initiative is an important and encouraging step forward in our efforts to ensure early detection and intervention for hearing loss.”
Currently, 10 states have newborn universal hearing screening programs: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming. As the ASHA Leader goes to press, 13 additional states anticipate introducing newborn hearing screening legislation this session. Many states have enacted newborn hearing screening legislation based on model legislation created by ASHA in 1996.
“ASHA will continue to work with both Congress and the Administration to seek passage of legislation that makes a meaningful difference in promoting newborn hearing screening in all states,” Geffner said.
For more information, see ASHA’s Model Universal Newborn Hearing Bill on ASHA’s Web site.
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March 1999
Volume 4, Issue 5