Measure Would Expand Newborn Screening
A bill (AB 2651) under consideration in the Senate would expand a state program to test newborns' hearing to most hospitals statewide, the Sacramento Bee reports. Currently, state law requires only the approximately 180 facilities that participate in the California Children's Services program to screen newborns for hearing loss.
The bill, by Assembly member Dave Jones (D-Sacramento), would require general acute care facilities with a licensed perinatal service to provide the screening. Of this group of about 135 hospitals currently not required to provide the screening, March of Dimes spokesperson Keith Nash said 29 do so voluntarily.
Under the bill, infants born at clinics or hospitals with fewer than 100 births annually would not necessarily undergo the screenings, but parents would receive information about outpatient settings where the tests are available. Parents would have the right to decline the screening.
According to an Assembly Appropriations Committee analysis, the bill would increase state and federal costs by about $3.2 million annually but could yield "potentially significant" savings in education and social programs. The bill would take effect in January 2008.
The Assembly has approved the bill, which is supported by the:
- California Association of Nurse Practitioners;
- California Educators of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing;
- California Medical Association;
- California Speech-Language-Hearing Association; and
- Center for Education of the Infant Deaf.