HEARING LOSS: State Launches Infant Screening Program
The state Department of Health Services Monday announced a $6 million program to screen infants for hearing loss, the AP/Contra Costs Times reports. The California Newborn Hearing Screening Program will offer hearing tests to nearly 400,000 newborns each year. According to health officials, one out of 300 babies in the state is born with a hearing problem, which, if left undiagnosed, can lead to developmental problems. The tests, ranging in price from $30-$150, will be free for those children covered by Medi-Cal or California Children's Services, a publicly funded insurance plan for kids with chronic illnesses. Parents whose children are not covered by Medi-Cal will have the option of paying out-of-pocket. Bobby Pena of the California Association of Health Plans indicated that most managed care companies will pay for the screenings because they are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Four hospitals currently participate in the program, and officials hope to offer the tests in 200 facilities statewide by 2002. State health director Diana Bonta said the program also will monitor infants to ensure that they receive proper care (Coleman, 7/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.