ACI Alliance on the Hill—At Home
ACI Alliance is excited to announce an important initiative this summer: ACI Alliance on the Hill—At Home. Given this year’s especially long Congressional recess from mid July to early September, we have a unique opportunity to reach out to elected officials while they are in their homes districts or states this summer. We encourage you to invite your US Senators and your Member of Congress to visit your clinic, hospital, or school to:
- Share information about cochlear implantation and the local CI provider presence and see first-hand what you do.
- Ask your Senators to support the reauthorization of the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act. The House has already the legislation—we are looking for Senate sponsors.
This is an outreach effort that will be well received as elected officials are looking for opportunities to interact with constituents on non-controversial, bipartisan concerns of importance. Think of the impact we could have on awareness among elected officials and on our concerns if we all carried out a local initiative this summer!
There are three resources below that provide guidance to carry out ACI Alliance on the Hill—At Home.
Please contact Donna Sorkin, Executive Director with any questions. email@example.com
CALL TO ACTION: ACI Alliance on the Hill—At Home
Invite Members of Congress to your CI Center, Clinic or School this Summer
Building on the success of ACI Alliance on the Hill held in Washington, DC on October 14, 2015, we request all ACI Alliance members to schedule meetings with your Members of Congress at home! As the 2016 election draws closer, Members of Congress will be looking for positive opportunities this Summer to interact with constituents in their states and Congressional districts. We encourage you to invite your Members of Congress to visit your facility—whether it is a CI center, other clinic or school—to learn about cochlear implants and meet patients.
The purpose of these meetings is two-fold: (1) To share information about cochlear implantation and your work in their district or state and (2) To ask your Senators to support and cosponsor the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Act of 2015, H.R. 1344. (The House already passed this bill.)
Background: ACI Alliance hosted a Congressional advocacy day last October, the day before the start of CI 2015 DC. ACI Alliance on the Hill followed a similar advocacy day held in October 2013. The day’s activities served as an opportunity for dozens of CI leaders to educate over 100 Congressional offices on the importance of cochlear implantation. ACI Alliance efforts led several Senators to cosponsor the EHDI legislation and also helped secure passage of the bill in the House in 2015.
Developing Congressional champions supportive of CI policy is imperative. The best way to develop Congressional champions is to have them visit your setting (clinic, hospital, university, school) to see—first hand—how you work with CI recipients and the extraordinary outcomes people achieve with this intervention. With Congress out of session from July 16-September 6, we have an ideal visit opportunity.
What you need to do now:
- Identify Your Congressman and two Senators by Googling “Find Your Senator” or “Find Your Representative.” Enter your zip code to identify your Representative.
- Click on the Congressman’s or Senators’ name to open his or her official website. Scroll to the bottom of the website to identify the district or state offices. Phone the office closest to your facility.
- Request that the Congressional Member visit your CI Center or facility. You may need to follow up with a short email requesting a visit.
- The purpose of the visit is to have your Member of Congress tour your center and learn more about cochlear implants, including what your center does to support CI. We will also ask you to discuss the pending early intervention legislation.
- You should directly reference your own experience with cochlear implantation during meetings and consider having a CI patient (child or adult) present.
- If they are unable to arrange a visit to your clinic, ask to visit the district office to meet with the Senator or Congressman when they have in-state office hours, as a first step.
- Follow up as these visits are often hastily arranged.
- Once confirmed, consider inviting local media if the Member’s office agrees. Request help from the public affairs office of your hospital, university or school, if your facility has one. This can occur as a reception or brief speech at your Center after the visit to increase exposure for your clinic or school and the Member.
- Two handouts are attached for your use in planning the Congressional meetings:
a. One page background on the pending Early Hearing Detection and Intervention law. The legislation has passed the House. We need to encourage Senators to sign-on as co-sponsors. At this writing, the Senate sponsors include Portman (OH), Gillibrand (NY), Kirk (IL), Cochran (MS), Wicker (MS), Klobuchar (MN), Murphy (CT), Boozman (AR), and Bennett (CO). If your Senator has already signed on as a sponsor, thank them for their early support. If they have not, ask them to sign up a sponsor of this important legislation.
b. Interview with Christy Maes, mother of the South Carolina child who has cochlear implants who competed recently in the National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC. The Maes family story is a great example of what can happen when early intervention services are provided properly. Neil Maes is 11 years old and deaf from birth, yet his language is such that he successfully competed with children from all over the US.
- Touch base with the State Champion from your state to coordinate your state efforts for maximum effect. You can find your ACI Alliance State Champ here: https://acialliance.siteym.com/?ACIAStateChamps
- Let us know of any contacts you have made and also what transpired (i.e., who was your primary contact, who visited). Also be sure to tell us about any important comments or questions that were communicated during the visit so that we can keep track of what Members of Congress are concerned about. Please send an email to Susan Thomas (sthomas@acialliance) within a week of any visit regarding the above topics.
- Strive to have all three visits (or as many visits as you can arrange) occur by September 6, 2016. Good luck!
Don’t hesitate to ask if you have questions or need help. Email Donna Sorkin firstname.lastname@example.org
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Support Passage of S. 2424 and H.R. 1344
Reauthorization of the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Act of 2015
Original House Sponsors - Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA)
Passed in the House - September 8, 2015
Original Senate Sponsors: Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Introduced and Referred to Senate HELP Committee – December 18, 2015
- S. 2424 and H.R. 1344 amends the Public Health Service Act to reauthorize research and public health activities related to early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of hearing loss in newborns, infants, and young children. ACI Alliance strongly supports new provisions in the legislation that would ensure parents of children with hearing loss are presented with the full range of treatment options and that the reauthorization is extended to young children, in addition to newborns and infants. Activities authorized under the bill are conducted by HRSA, CDC, and NIH.
- Two to three out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born deaf or hard-of-hearing and more lose their hearing later in childhood, according the National Institute of Health.
- Certain genetic disorders, environmental causes, complications after birth, and certain infections can cause hearing loss in infants and children.
- Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) refers to the practice of screening every newborn for hearing loss prior to hospital discharge. Infants not passing the screening receive diagnostic evaluation before three months of age and, when necessary, early intervention services by six months of age.
- According to reports, early intervention is particularly critical for speech acquisition in many children with hearing loss. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have EHDI laws or voluntary compliance programs that screen hearing.
- Early detection of hearing loss is just like the early detection of any other disease or illness—it can dramatically change the outcome of one’s prognosis.
- The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that enacting the EHDI Reauthorization bill would cost $212 million over the 2016 to 2020 period, assuming appropriation of the specified and necessary amounts. Enacting H.R. 1344 would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply and it imposes no unfunded mandates.
- SENATORS: Please cosponsor S. 2424 and support its passage through the Senate HELP Committee as soon as possible and onto the Senate floor for passage.
- HOUSE MEMBERS: Please support EHDI Reauthorization being signed by the President this year.
 H.R. 1344 reauthorizes the federal authority for hearing tests and intervention programs for newborn babies, which were first authorized through the Newborn Infant Hearing Screening and Intervention Act of 1999.
© 2016 American Cochlear Implant Alliance
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