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Summary: Current law requires physicians or other persons attending the births of newborns to test newborns for diseases specified by the Department of State Health Services (DSHS). DSHS has the authority to prescribe screening test procedures and standards for each test and current law requires these tests to be performed in a laboratory established or approved by DSHS. Normally, these tests do not require hospitals to incur any cost for compliance, such as equipment expenditures.
HB 740 states that DSHS, with advice from the Newborn Screening Advisory Committee, shall authorize tests on newborns for critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) and requires birthing facilities to perform such tests if authorized by DSHS, unless: the parent denies the screening, the newborn is transferred to another facility before the screening is performed, the screening has previously been completed, the newborn was discharged from the birthing facility not longer than 10 hours after birth and a referral was made to another birthing facility, physician, healthcare provider.
Testing for CCHD differs from other tests that DSHS is authorized to require because it imposes an equipment cost on birthing facilities to test for CCHD, if they are not already equipped. HB 740, however, does allow for a birthing facility to transfer the newborn to another facility equipped to perform the test in lieu of purchasing the testing equipment themselves.
Analysis: HB 740 would expand the list of DSHS required tests on newborns. Still, HB 740 requires DSHS to consider the costs associated with these tests and gives ill-equipped hospitals the opportunity to transfer newborns to other better equipped hospitals. Moreover, the equipment required to test for CCHD is inexpensive and most birthing facilities are already appropriately equipped. Parents have the right to opt out of the testing altogether if they so desire. CCHD testing will also benefit newborns at risk of critical congenital heart disease, and potentially save state resources that would otherwise be spent on complications stemming from CCHD that is not caught and treated at childbirth.
Due to the potential for long run cost savings, and the provisions allowing parents to opt out and for birthing centers to transfer a newborn to an appropriately equipped facility if necessary, we encourage legislators to vote YES on HB 740.