New State Laws Enhance EHDI Programs Maine, Tennessee Enact Legislation; States Consider ASHA Model Bill School Matters
School Matters  |   May 01, 2008
New State Laws Enhance EHDI Programs
Author Notes
  • Rend Al-Mondhiry, director of state legislative and regulatory advocacy, can be reached at
    Rend Al-Mondhiry, director of state legislative and regulatory advocacy, can be reached at×
Article Information
Hearing Disorders / Special Populations / Early Identification & Intervention / Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / ASHA News & Member Stories / School Matters
School Matters   |   May 01, 2008
New State Laws Enhance EHDI Programs
The ASHA Leader, May 2008, Vol. 13, 5-6. doi:10.1044/leader.SCM1.13072008.5
The ASHA Leader, May 2008, Vol. 13, 5-6. doi:10.1044/leader.SCM1.13072008.5
New state laws are on the books in Maine and Tennessee that enhance early hearing detection and intervention (EHDI) efforts, reflecting a national trend to improve EHDI programs.
Maine’s governor approved legislation April 17 to help ensure that newborns with suspected or confirmed hearing loss receive the necessary follow-up care in a timely manner from qualified professionals. The legislation implements the recommendations of a working group that studied the effectiveness and timeliness of early identification and intervention for children with hearing loss.
The new law requires a hospital or birthing center to schedule a newborn whose screening result is “refer” for a follow-up audiology appointment. Parental approval is necessary. The appointment must be scheduled prior to discharge, and the hospital or center must notify the newborn’s primary care provider in writing of the screening result and appointment prior to discharge. In addition, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services’ Newborn Hearing Program must report to a joint standing committee of the legislature about barriers to access to audiologists for the continued evaluation of hearing loss in newborns.
Tennessee’s governor signed legislation April 21 to enhance the state’s newborn hearing screening program by mandating hearing screenings and follow-up care for all newborns. “Claire’s Law” requires that every newborn infant in Tennessee be screened for hearing loss before discharge from the hospital, unless the child’s parents object on religious grounds.
For children born outside a hospital setting, or in a hospital that does not provide screening, the attending health care professional must refer the child to the Department of Health or to an appropriate provider for a hearing screening. In addition, any medical or audiologic provider performing follow-up tests must report the results. Children who do not pass the hearing screening test are then referred to the Tennessee Early Intervention System (TEIS) of the Department of Education for follow-up. Children who have been identified with hearing loss or are at high risk for hearing loss must also be referred to the TEIS. Finally, the law requires certain insurance plans to cover hearing screenings.
New Model Bill
This movement toward improvement of EHDI programs is supported by ASHA’s new model EHDI Phase II bill. Phase I, launched in 1999, focused on expanding universal newborn screening and other policies; Phase II is designed to help states reduce the number of infants lost to follow-up after hearing screening, expand early intervention services, and promote culturally sensitive family support programs. The model bill recently underwent extensive peer review and was revised based on suggestions and comments of ASHA members and various EHDI stakeholders, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing, and the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management at Utah State University.
The bill was presented at ASHA’s 2008 State Association Workshop in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., to introduce state leaders to EHDI Phase II. ASHA will help targeted states consider introducing appropriate aspects of the model bill into their legislatures.
ASHA has updated its EHDI talking points to reflect new developments in research, technology, and key components of EHDI Phase II found in the model state bill. The talking points emphasize the importance of follow-up and tracking of children with hearing loss, addressing privacy concerns, and recognizing the need to detect and manage mild, unilateral, and late-onset hearing loss in children.
The talking points will be useful in educating policymakers as states advocate for implementation of Phase II of EHDI. More information is available at ASHA’s Legislation and Advocacy Web site.
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May 2008
Volume 13, Issue 7