Update: On December 20, 2022, President Biden signed S. 4052, the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Act, into law. This bipartisan legislation reauthorizes the EHDI program, which funds state-based programs that provide screening and early intervention services for children who are deaf or hard of hearing, through fiscal year 2027. The AAO-HNS applauds the House and Senate for advancing this critical legislation last month, which had been a key legislative priority for the Academy during the 117th Congress.
Congress must take action to reauthorize the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) program before it expires at the end of the current fiscal year (September 30, 2022). This vital program supports initial screening and diagnostic evaluation for hearing loss in infants and connects children with hearing loss to vital early intervention services.
The Academy has endorsed legislation that would reauthorize the EHDI program, the bipartisan Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Act (H.R. 5561/S. 4052), and strongly urges Congress to pass this legislation.
Hearing loss continues to be one of the most common birth defects in America. Since the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) program was created in 2000, approximately 98% of newborns now receive hearing screenings within days of birth. Before 1993, fewer than 1 in 10 newborns in the U.S. were screened for hearing loss.
The EHDI program has demonstrated the value of early detection and intervention programs to children and infants facing a range of hearing deficiencies. Those with hearing loss who are able to access interventions have a better chance of developing language, communication, cognitive, and social development skills along with their peers. Since EHDI’s inception, states and territories have had unprecedented success identifying newborns and infants with hearing loss in order to obtain necessary services and treatment.
Congress Must Take Action to Reauthorize EHDI
In December 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act of 2021 (H.R. 5561) by a strong bipartisan margin, with more than 400 lawmakers showing their support for this critical program. Last reauthorized in 2017, this legislation would fund the EHDI program through fiscal year 2026.
In April 2022, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced companion legislation (S. 4052) to reauthorize the EHDI program through fiscal year 2027. This bipartisan legislation has been cosponsored by Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA), and John Hickenlooper (D-CO).
The Academy urges the Senate to take swift action to fund the EHDI program before its current authorization expires in Fall 2022.