NEWBORN SCREENING: Wilson Signs Bill Creating Hearing Program
Receiving one of the first "of 44 budget-related bills sent to him last week by the Legislature," Gov. Pete Wilson yesterday signed into law a measure that would create "a newborn and infant hearing program for children diagnosed with hearing loss," the AP/San Diego Union-Tribune reports (8/19). The measure, sponsored by state Assemblyman Martin Gallegos (D-Baldwin Park), would require auditory screening for all newborns and infants in California Children's Services neonatal intensive care units. The program created by AB 2780 is called the Newborn and Infant Hearing Screening, Tracking and Intervention Program. In addition to implementing the screening requirement, the program will develop a comprehensive system of care for the nearly 3,300 California children diagnosed with hearing loss each year. "By detecting hearing impairments at an early age, we can provide the proper treatments and programs to ensure their language and communications development is not hampered," said Wilson. The state will allocate funds for the screening of newborns covered under Medi-Cal and California Children's Services programs, in an attempt to extend the program to approximately 70% of new births within the next three years. "Unfortunately, hearing impairment is often undiagnosed until the age of two," Wilson said. "By that time, permanent, serious limitation on language and communication may have occurred, affecting a child's ability to perform well in school." Gallegos' measure, part of the so-called health budget trailer bill, is an urgency measure and will go into effect immediately (Wilson release, 8/18).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.