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Harkin Applauds Congressional Passage of Bipartisan Bill to Enhance Life-Saving Newborn Screening Programs

Bipartisan Health Bill Now Goes to President’s Desk, Will Be 24th HELP Committee Bill Signed Into Law Under Harkin’s Leadership as Chairman

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today applauded House passage of the bipartisan Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act.

Led by Harkin as chairman, this bipartisan health bill was passed by the HELP Committee in December 2013 and cleared the Senate earlier this week. The Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act now heads to the President’s desk for his signature and is set to become the 24th HELP Committee bill to be signed into law this Congress under Harkin’s leadership.

“Passing this newborn screening bill is a victory for families around the country and a powerful reminder that bipartisan compromise is possible when both sides come together,” Harkin said. “Our country is stronger when we invest in healthy families and this bill will support the newborn screening programs which play such an important role in the early detection and treatment of life-threatening conditions.

“These programs will ensure that infants and families get timely, accurate screenings and help states to improve their newborn screening programs, ensuring that infants receive critical treatment as soon as possible,” Harkin added. “Plain and simple, these screening programs save lives. I thank Senators Hagan and Hatch for all their work to champion this important legislation and help to ensure families have access to these critical programs.”

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.