CONTACT: Rep. Sheila Solon
State Rep. Sheila Solon and House Budget Chairman Rick Stream
Encourage Governor Nixon to Support Vital Funding for Newborn Screenings
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – State Rep. Sheila Solon said today that she is committed to working with Gov. Nixon to find vital funding to save the lives of hundreds of newborns by expanding Missouri’s newborn screening services to weekends and holidays.
Nixon recently vetoed $191,400 from the state budget that would have opened the state health laboratory on Saturdays and expanded a courier service to Sundays and holidays. Solon and House Budget Chairman Rick Stream said the veto is a setback to their efforts to provide timely, potentially life-saving screening for innocent newborns, but affirmed that they will continue to look for ways to secure the necessary funding in the future.
“We found a flaw in our current system with the length of time it takes for newborn blood samples to reach the laboratory, and these funds represented a cost efficient way to fix the problem and speed up the process,” said Solon, R-Blue Springs, who noted that a report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel showed that more than 11 percent of nearly 66,000 newborn blood samples taken in 2012 took five days or more to reach the Missouri testing laboratory.
She added, “The funding is essential to our efforts to promote better health outcomes for these young people and to give families the peace of mind as quickly as possible that their newborns are healthy and safe. Going forward I hope the governor will make a good faith effort to work with us to make sure these dollars are secured for this incredibly important purpose.”
Solon, who also sponsored HB 1807 to ensure screening tests are processed in a timely fashion, said it is critical for results to be finalized within four days of birth to identify disorders in time to improve or save the lives of newborns. The $191,400 in funding added by Stream and Solon and approved by the Missouri General Assembly would have expanded the state health laboratory’s newborn screenings to Saturday. It also would have expanded a courier service to Sundays. Stream and Solon said the expanded services are an essential component to providing lifesaving care to the approximately one out of every 600 newborns who are born with potentially severe or deadly conditions.
“Early diagnosis is the key to giving newborns a fighting chance to have happy, healthy lives, and also to prevent millions of dollars in medical bills, follow up care and lifelong assistance,” said Stream, R-Kirkwood. “I am disappointed that the governor chose to veto this funding in particular because I know how important it is and how hard Rep. Solon worked to make it possible. I hope he will change his course on this issue and work with us in the future to give Missouri newborns the opportunity to grow into healthy adults.”