On Thursday, June 25, a bipartisan bill introduced by Congressman Brett Guthrie (KY-02) received a legislative hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health.
H.R. 1344, the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act of 2015, will reauthorize the federal authority for hearing tests and intervention programs for newborn babies, which were first authorized through the Newborn Infant Hearing Screening and Intervention Act of 1999.
“Tremendous strides have been made with increasing the number of newborn babies receiving hearing tests,” said Guthrie. “But there is still work to be done to ensure that each and every child born in the United States receives this important testing.”
In reauthorizing the Newborn Infant Hearing Screening and Intervention Act of 1999, H.R. 1344 also adds federal support for young children.
“This is critical because the incidence of hearing loss triples between birth and five years of age, and this bill allows us to identify this group of children as well, and intervene so that they enter our schools ready to learn,” wrote Patti Freemyer Martin, M.D., Director of Audiology and Speech Language Pathology at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, in her prepared testimony.
“Early detection of hearing loss is just like the early detection of any other disease or illness—it can dramatically change the outcome of one’s prognosis,” said Guthrie upon the bill’s introduction in March 2015. “By reauthorizing these screening and intervention programs, and by shifting our focus to ensure there is less loss to follow-up, we can ensure all newborn babies are being evaluated and receiving any necessary treatment.”
The Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act expires in September 2015.