Infant Hearing Bill Advances in States, Senate Universal infant hearing screening is gaining momentum throughout the country, and bills are making their way through statehouses as many legislative sessions wind to a close. The growing movement for universal newborn hearing screening has made important inroads into the heartland. On May 3, Gov. Frank O’Bannon (D) enacted hearing ... ASHA News
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ASHA News  |   June 01, 1999
Infant Hearing Bill Advances in States, Senate
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Hearing & Speech Perception / Hearing Disorders / Special Populations / Early Identification & Intervention / ASHA News
ASHA News   |   June 01, 1999
Infant Hearing Bill Advances in States, Senate
The ASHA Leader, June 1999, Vol. 4, 1-7. doi:10.1044/leader.AN.04111999.1
The ASHA Leader, June 1999, Vol. 4, 1-7. doi:10.1044/leader.AN.04111999.1
Universal infant hearing screening is gaining momentum throughout the country, and bills are making their way through statehouses as many legislative sessions wind to a close.
The growing movement for universal newborn hearing screening has made important inroads into the heartland. On May 3, Gov. Frank O’Bannon (D) enacted hearing screening legislation in Indiana by signing that state’s “Infant Hearing Loss Act,” bringing to 16 the total number of states with such laws.
In Illinois, a universal hearing screening bill passed the State Assembly in a unanimous vote (115-0) and was sent to the office of Gov. George Ryan (R) on May 10 for his signature. Ryan will have 60 days to review the bill, but widespread popular support for the measure leaves little doubt he will sign it. Passage of the bill will make Illinois the 17th state to enact universal hearing screening legislation.
Missouri and Texas legislatures have also passed newborn hearing screening bills that await gubernatorial approval. The Missouri legislation sets a precedent for mandated insurance coverage that includes not only screening and follow-up services, but also initial amplification for the infant.
Snowe Launches Senate Bill
On May 4, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) introduced the “Newborn and Infant Hearing Screening and Intervention Act of 1999” (S. 956), the Senate version of the bill (H.R. 1193) introduced by Rep. James Walsh (R-NY) on March 18. Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Bill Frist (R-TN) cosponsored the legislation.
Like the House version, Snowe’s bill would help states establish programs to detect and diagnose hearing loss in all newborn children and to promote appropriate treatment and intervention for newborns with hearing loss. The legislation would also fund research by the National Institutes of Health to determine the best detection, diagnostic, treatment and intervention techniques and technologies.
“Without early diagnosis and intervention, these children are behind the learning curve before they have even started,” Snowe said. “They should not be denied a strong start in life simply for the lack of a simple screening test.”
“Unfortunately, only about 20% of the babies in this country are born in hospitals with universal newborn hearing screening programs, and more than 85% of all hospitals do not perform a hearing screening before sending the baby home,” Snowe said. “The consequences of not detecting hearing loss early are significant, but easily avoidable.”
To send an email or letter to a member of Congress urging them to support this crucial legislation, visit ASHA’s online Newborn and Infant Hearing Screening Action Center.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
June 1999
Volume 4, Issue 11