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Harkin, Alexander, Hagan, Hatch Praise Senate Passage of Bipartisan Bill to Enhance Life-Saving Newborn Screening Programs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA), Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and HELP Committee members Sens. Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) today praised unanimous passage in the Senate of the bipartisan Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act.

“Today I am pleased the Senate moved forward with this critical bill to invest in healthy families. Newborn screening programs play an essential role in the early detection and treatment of conditions that affect newborns. This bipartisan bill will ensure that infants and families get timely, accurate screenings,” Harkin said. “By supporting states, this legislation will help them to improve their newborn screening programs and assist pediatricians and other providers with finding and treating any medical conditions at the earliest possible time. For families around the country, these screening programs save lives and I thank Senators Hagan and Hatch for their tireless efforts to move this important bill forward.”

“The legislation passed by the Senate will improve life-saving screenings for nearly 80,000 infants born in Tennessee every year—as well as ensure that parents and doctors have the information and resources they need to keep the newborns in their care as safe as possible,” Alexander said. “Senator Hatch and Senator Hagan have done great work with this bill, and I look forward to the House quickly taking up and passing this important legislation.”

“I am so pleased that the Senate came together to reauthorize these critical programs and ensure more infants have the chance to lead a full and healthy life,” said Hagan, Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Children and Families. “As a mom and a grandmother, I know that parents have no greater concern than their children’s health, and today, no family should suffer because a treatable condition was left undetected at birth. I hope the House will move swiftly to approve this bill that will give states the resources to improve their newborn screening programs, and ensure that babies with serious or even fatal conditions get the care and treatment they need right when they’re diagnosed at birth.”

“When I first sponsored this bill in 2008, we created national newborn screening guidelines and helped improve comprehensive newborn screening in every state,” Hatch said. “Today, I’m proud that 30 more states treat at least 29 of 31 treatable core conditions. Reauthorizing this program means that newborns will have a better shot at dealing with these conditions thanks to early diagnosis. I’m pleased to support it once again."

The Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act, introduced by Sens. Hagan and Hatch, would reauthorize federal programs and grants that assist states with improvements to their newborn screening programs—including ensuring quality laboratory equipment and surveillance for newborn screening. The legislation also supports states in related education programs for parents and health-care providers and continues the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children, which determines which newborn screening tests should be added to the Recommended Uniform Screening Panel. The screening panel serves as a reference for states in determining which conditions to screen for in their respective newborn screening programs.

Approximately one in every 300 newborns in the United States has a condition that can be detected through screening, according to the March of Dimes.