New Bill Supports Early Identification of Hearing Loss The “Newborn and Infant Hearing Screening and Intervention Act of 1999,” introduced this month in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. James T. Walsh (R-NY), will support early detection, diagnosis and intervention for newborns and infants with hearing loss. The bill currently has 45 cosponsors, including Michael Bilirakis (R-FL), ... Policy Analysis
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Policy Analysis  |   March 01, 1999
New Bill Supports Early Identification of Hearing Loss
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Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / Policy Analysis
Policy Analysis   |   March 01, 1999
New Bill Supports Early Identification of Hearing Loss
The ASHA Leader, March 1999, Vol. 4, 1. doi:10.1044/leader.PA.04061999.1
The ASHA Leader, March 1999, Vol. 4, 1. doi:10.1044/leader.PA.04061999.1
The “Newborn and Infant Hearing Screening and Intervention Act of 1999,” introduced this month in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. James T. Walsh (R-NY), will support early detection, diagnosis and intervention for newborns and infants with hearing loss. The bill currently has 45 cosponsors, including Michael Bilirakis (R-FL), chair of the Subcommittee on Health and Environment.
Walsh announced the introduction of the bill at a March 18 news conference in Washington, DC. Recognized as a leader in child health and welfare, Walsh has focused on the problem of hearing loss among infants for the past nine years. “We test newborns now for other important disorders,” Walsh said. “Hearing loss is critical to learning, communication and the development of self-esteem among young people.”
Screening only infants considered at risk for hearing loss has resulted in a large number of infants with undetected hearing loss. “The impact of this legislation would be significant,” said ASHA President Donna Geffner. “The average age at which children are diagnosed with a hearing loss is 2.5 years. We know the profound effect on babies who go through critical years of neurophysiological and behavioral development without the benefit of adequate speech-language and auditory stimulation.”
Over a three-year period, the legislation would award, through the Health Resources and Services Administration, at least $13 million in grants to help states design and implement model newborn and infant hearing screening, evaluation and intervention programs. The legislation also would provide $12 million to support technical assistance and data collection through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and research through the National Institutes of Health. CDC data indicates that screening costs between $20 and $30 per test and that states will reap substantial savings in special education and intervention by identifying hearing loss early.
Speakers at the news event included Walsh; Geffner; Michael Maves, executive vice president of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery; Gilbert R. Herer, chair of the Department of Hearing and Speech at Children’s National Medical Center; and parent advocate Barbara Raimondo. Former Congressmen Raymond McGrath (R-NY) and Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) also spoke at the conference in support of the bill.
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March 1999
Volume 4, Issue 6