“We need your help!” announced ASHA this week. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) reports that additional Senate co-sponsors are needed on legislation to reauthorize the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Act (S. 2424).

ASHA Leaders in the Senate have discussed taking this bill to a vote in September, but there are reportedly a lot of competing priorities. To help make this happen, ASHA says your Senators need to hear from you, their constituents, because we need them to vote on this reauthorization bill before the presidential election in November!

EHDI legislation—championed by Congressmen Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Louis Capps (D-CA)—has already passed the House. The Senate must now pass the bill and get it to the President in order for the program to be reauthorized.

Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Kristin Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced the bill in December 2015. This legislation would reauthorize the federal portion of this important and highly successful initiative for the next five years, and ASHA urges, “Every ASHA member should care about this legislation passing. Take Action Today!”

Background in EHDI

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 (PL 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. 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. Please ask your Senators to cosponsor this important legislation today!

Source: ASHA

ASHA Resource: For more information, please contact Ingrida Lusis, ASHA’s director of federal and political advocacy, at [email protected]