Governor Corbett’s office has announced a proposal to ELIMINATE funding for the Pennsylvania newborn hearing program. In 2010, the budget for the program was reduced by 30%. Additional cuts were expected in 2011, but certainly not elimination of the program. After 10 years of screening and nearly 2,000 children identified through the timely efforts of everyone working together, it seems the PA Newborn Hearing Screening Advisory Committee needs to justify screening for hearing loss in newborns.
Currently the state funds pay for the following aspects of the program:
* Advisory committee meetings and member’s travel expenses
* Staff Travel for on-site monitoring visits
* The out of hospital hearing screening program, equipment, supplies and training and
site visits (4,000 infants every year are born in an out of hospital setting in PA)
* The hearing screening and metabolic screening data system
* Postage to mail letters to parents and physicians
* Printing for referral forms for hospital reporting
* Hospital grants for hearing screening equipment
You can view the budget at the following link, www.pa.gov/open , under the Health department. In the state funds allocation, you will notice newborn hearing screening has a zero balance. If you have concerns about the proposed budget you may wish to share your thoughts with your local representative.
At this point, it is up to us, our patients, our students, and their families to contact their local legislators to see if funding for the program can be restored. Please, please get the word out so that the newborn hearing screening program can continue to help children and families!
The budget hearings start next week, the Director of the Department of Health will be taking questions from the Senate Appropriations Committee next Wednesday and the House Committee on Thursday. It would be a great help for PSHA members who live in their home district to contact their legislators to ask how we will continue to screen out of hospital births, who will collect reports on screening results and coordinate efforts to minimize loss to follow up. See the PSHA website (www.psha.org) for more information from ASHA.
If you need more information, contact Jim Zeigler, Au.D., Chair of the Newborn Hearing Screening Advisory Committee ( firstname.lastname@example.org )