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EHDI Reauthorization
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Early Intervention Act Signed Into Law

10/19/2017

American Cochlear Implant Alliance is pleased to announce that on Wednesday, October 18, the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Act (S. 652) was signed into law by President Trump. The bill had earlier passed the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. The EHDI Act is bipartisan legislation that will help ensure continued funding and support for early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of hearing loss in newborns, infants, and young children. The full text of the legislation can be found HERE.

ACI Alliance strongly supported this legislation and worked closely with the bill’s champions in the House (Representatives Brett Guthrie, R-KY and Doris Matsui, D-CA) and in the Senate (Senators Rob Portman, R-OH and Tim Kaine, D-VA) to advance the bill through Congress. ACI Alliance worked on language that was incorporated into the legislation emphasizing the importance of parents receiving accurate and comprehensive information about the hearing technology and communication options available to their child. The bill expands EHDI-related grants to include children younger than three, in addition to newborns and infants.

ACI Alliance will be tracking the impact of the law on access to cochlear implants and how parents and children are informed of their technology and communication options. Cochlear implant centers and other clinics for young children will be instrumental in gathering important data around access to care. Members are advised that ACI Alliance will be providing resources regarding this data collection in the future.

ACI Alliance thanks our bill champions in Congress as well as our coalition partners, members, and advocates for their work to pass this needed legislation.

 

Senate Passes Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Bill

10/3/17

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Guthrie, Matsui Applaud House Passage of Early Hearing Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Brett Guthrie (KY-02), vice chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health, and Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-06) today applauded House passage of the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act of 2017 (S. 652). Guthrie and Matsui, along with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), introduced the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act earlier this year to reauthorize a program for early detection, diagnosis, and intervention in cases where newborns and young children are identified as deaf or hard-of-hearing.

“House passage of the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act is a huge win for children and families,” said Congressman Guthrie. “By catching hearing loss early, families can receive information on best practices related to preventing further damage. I was proud to introduce this bill to reauthorize the newborn screening program, which has shown itself to be a proven success already, and which raised the percentage of newborn babies screened for hearing loss from 40 in 2000 to 97 percent in 2015. I’m excited to see the president sign this bill into law soon to keep up the program’s record of success.”

“This program exemplifies the importance of early detection and intervention,” said Congresswoman Matsui. “By ensuring that infants have access to hearing screenings at birth, parents can make informed choices about their care management early on. This is critically important, given that so much of a child’s development happens in the first few years of their life. I’m pleased that through the passage of this legislation, the newborn screening and intervention program can continue to improve health outcomes for kids.”

 

Newborn Hearing Screening Bill Introduced

3/16/17

We are delighted to announce that the US House and Senate have agreed upon bill language for proposed Newborn Hearing Screening legislation. With a compromise having been completed already, it expected that bill passage will move quickly. We commend Senators Portman and Kaine and Congressional Members Matsui and Guthrie for their bipartisan efforts to pass this important legislation. To view the press release click HERE

ACI Alliance members urged their national legislators to support passage and we partnered with a number of organizations in the field of hearing loss on the bill language. We are proud that our suggested language on technology and communication options was retained with specific mention of cochlear implants and other hearing technologies. In the next 10 days, we will share information with you on how to encourage your elected officials to support passage of this important legislation.

 

Reauthorization of Federal Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Law at Risk
12/5/2016

For the past 1 1/2 years, American Cochlear Implant Alliance has collaborated with other organizations in the field to reauthorize the highly successful EHDI legislation that has served to dramatically improve the timely identification of young children with hearing loss in our country. ACI Alliance worked on language that was incorporated into the proposed legislation that emphasizes the importance of parent information so that families can make informed early choices about technology and communication options. Our membership visited with legislative offices in October 2015 to emphasize the importance of the legislation.

At this writing, the Senate had still not passed a bill. The House bill was passed last year. If a bill is not passed by Thursday of this week, it is highly likely that there will be no legislation passed before the holiday recess and the process will need to begin again next year. This is risky both because we know the focus will be on other aspects of healthcare and also we could lose the excellent language that now exists in the House bill.

We are urging our members to make phone calls today to two Senators who have the power to move this forward. Please review the recommended calling instructions below and take action ASAP. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me. Thank you very much for your interest and support.

Donna Sorkin (dsorkin@acialliance.org)



Act Now to Reauthorize 
Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act

The EHDI Bill (Early Hearing Detection and Intervention) is currently stalled in the Senate. If the bill is not approved this week, it is unlikely that it will be reauthorized in 2016. 

U.S. Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) (Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions or HELP Committee) may be the only people with the power to push through the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Act in the Senate (S.2424) this year. Please call their offices today and request that they send this bill, as currently written and without changes, to the Senate floor. 

If changes are made to the bill by the Senate, the House must go back and pass the Senate’s amended version. The House passed its version of the bill by unanimous consent in 2015. The House is expected to adjourn this week, the last day of the 114th Congress. If the House adjourns before they can pass the Senate version, the EHDI bill dies for this session of Congress and we will need to start over next year during a time of major planned changes in health care. That would be a very high hurdle.

Please take a moment and contact the offices of Senators McConnell and Alexander to request that these leaders bring up the HOUSE PASSED VERSION of the EHDI bill for a vote as soon as possible.

Reauthorizing this bill with the language on comprehensive parent advisement is an ACI Alliance priority. Please call these numbers today. It is fine to leave a message if no one answers. Be brief.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
Main Office Line: 202.224.2541. Leave voicemail if no one answers 
Majority Leader Office: 202.224.3135
FAX Number: 202.224.2499. Old fashioned but possibly the best way to get something in front of staff this week. 

HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander: 
Main Office Line: 202.224.4944

In your call, please make the following points:

  • Very briefly note you work with children with hearing loss at ___________ (name of your clinic or school).
  • Please hotline this bill. It has been in the HELP Committee for a year.
  • Please do not make changes to the bill. The House passed the bill in September 2015 on suspension of the rules.
  • This legislation does not request increased funding; it asks for the same level of funding that was authorized for the last five years.
  • This is not controversial legislation; it would be the third reauthorization of EHDI.
  • Before EHDI, fewer than 40 percent of babies born in the US were screened for hearing loss.
  • If a baby is not screened, the parents may not notice a hearing loss for 2-3 years and the child’s language and potential is negatively impacted for life. 

EHDI legislation was championed by House Members Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Lois Capps (D-CA) and passed the House last year. The bill has been with the HELP Committee since that time. The Senate must now pass the bill and get it to the President for the program to be reauthorized. 

Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Kristin Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced the bill in December 2015. It has been cosponsored by a bipartisan group of Senators, which currently number 14. This legislation would reauthorize the federal portion of this important and highly successful initiative for the next five years.

Background
EHDI grants were first authorized in the Newborn Infant Hearing Screening and Intervention Act of 1999, which was incorporated into the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2000, and signed into law. That law provided federal funds for state grants to develop infant hearing screening and intervention programs. The following year, Congress reauthorized these grants through the Children's Health Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-310), and included provisions related to early hearing screening and evaluation of all newborns, coordinated intervention, rehabilitation services, and research. In 2010, Congress passed the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act of 2010, which authorized these programs through 2015.

Although great strides have been made, significant work remains to be done to ensure that newborns with hearing loss receive timely and appropriate services. The Bill addresses the need for parents to receive information on all options and all hearing technologies that may help a child with hearing loss. Continued federal funding is necessary to ensure that state EHDI programs become fully operational and successful, and that they properly link screening programs with diagnosis and early intervention.

 

Support Reauthorization of the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Act

Donna L. Sorkin, MA, Executive Director, ACI Alliance 3/16/2016 Due in part to awareness created during the visits of ACI Alliance advocates to Congressional offices last October, Senators Portman (R-OH) and Gillibrand (D-NY) became co-sponsors of the EHDI reauthorization with S.2424 introduced just prior to the December recess. The proposed bill would continue the support provided to states to carry out EHDI activities. It also includes language requiring parent information on language development options and technology. The challenge now is to keep the bill moving during a difficult political environment. We have been encouraged to have you, our members, make contact with your US Senators to encourage them to support reauthorization by becoming Co-Sponsors. We have made the process as easy as possible. Please send an email to the offices of both US Senators in your state. A suggested template letter may be found HERE. A list of the Health Legislative Assistants for each office with their personal email and phone number may be found HERE. The letter should go to the staffer directly (not the Senator). Email is the best way to communicate with Congressional offices as regular mail is screened and can take many weeks to reach the intended recipient. Please personalize the attached template letter so that it does not read like a form letter. After you have sent the letter, please follow up with both offices by calling and requesting to speak with the Health Legislative Assistant who you wrote to. If the person is unavailable, leave a message on their voicemail and restate your support of the EHDI Reauthorization. Urge for their Senator’s co-sponsorship of the bill, which is Senate 2424.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact ACI Alliance for help. Please try to send your letters within the next week so that we can impact the Senate offices quickly and with maximum effect.

Please send a copy of your letters to ACI Alliance Outreach Director Susan Thomas (sthomas@acialliance.org) so that we can track our progress. Thank you for being part of our efforts to improve access to appropriate hearing and timely care for children.
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