WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and John Hickenlooper (D-CO) introduced the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act of 2022, which would reauthorize current research and improve public health programs for early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of hearing loss in newborns, infants, and young children for five additional years. The current funding for these programs is set to expire at the end of fiscal year 2022.
“For all of us to do better, each person must be able to achieve their potential,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Screening children’s hearing and making sure that those who cannot hear well have their problem addressed benefits that child and benefits us all.”
“Early hearing detection is critical because children with hearing loss often fall behind their peers in speech development, cognitive skills, and social skills,” said Senator Portman. “This bill takes important steps to continue critical programs for early hearing detection and intervention for newborns, infants, and young children. I’m hopeful we can move this legislation quickly in a strong bipartisan way.”
“Early detection and diagnosis of hearing loss helps ensure that parents have the tools they need to help their children, and that children will receive the support they need to develop and thrive,” said Senator Hassan. “I’m pleased to join Senator Portman on this bipartisan effort and to work together to help all children.”
“The Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act gives millions of newborns the chance to thrive. This is an undeniably successful program. We can’t let it lapse,” said Senator Hickenlooper.
Representatives Brett Guthrie (R-KY-2) and Doris Matsui (D-CA-6) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives, which passed last December in a vote of 410-17.
The bill would:
- Authorizes development of programs for hearing screening of newborns, infants, and young children;
- Authorizes prompt evaluation and diagnosis of children referred from screening programs;
- Provides for educational, audiological, and medical interventions for children confirmed to be deaf or hard-of-hearing;
- Allows education and medical models to ensure that newborns, infants, and young children who are identified through hearing screening receive follow up by qualified early intervention providers, qualified health care providers, or pediatric medical homes; and
- Continues research and development for early hearing detection and intervention, including development of technologies and clinical studies of screening methods.