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Delegate Hope “Extremely Saddened” in McDonnell Veto of Newborn Screening Bill Print

For Immediate Release

April 10, 2012

Delegate Hope “Extremely Saddened” in McDonnell Veto of Newborn Screening Bill

Arlington - Governor Robert F. McDonnell vetoed HB 399, a bill that passed the 2012 General Assembly session unanimously.  HB 399 would create a statewide process to implement newborn screening for critical congenital heart disease (CCHD).   CCHD is the most common birth defect known but is often missed in routine newborn examinations.  If left undiagnosed, CCHD can lead to long-term consequences and even death.  Every year, 1,200 children are born in Virginia with CCHD; however, a simple, non-invasive screening is now available to detect CCHD.   HB 399 would lead to the requirement that every newborn undergo this potentially life-saving screening.

In his veto explanation, Governor McDonnell pointed to his “efforts to reform state government to reduce the number of boards, commissions and work groups that continue in perpetuity through legislative enactments.”  He also stated “the Virginia Department of Health has an existing work group planning the implementation of appropriate early intervention services to infants identified as having critical congenital cyanotic heart disease.”

Delegate Patrick A. Hope (D-Arlington) said, “I am extremely saddened that Governor McDonnell vetoed legislation seeking to detect and diagnose CCHD in newborns.  Contrary to his explanation, the Virginia Department of Health does not already have an existing workgroup on CCHD of which I’ve ever been made aware.  The Department, with my encouragement, applied for a federal HRSA grant seeking funding to fully implement a CCHD program; however, the Governor’s veto seriously jeopardizes that application and the likelihood Virginia will be able to implement this program.”

Delegate Hope continued, “Governor McDonnell seems to want it both ways.  Saying on the one hand he vetoed the bill because he wants to reduce the number of work groups in government and then in the next breath extol the fact that a CCHD work group already exists.”  Hope concluded, “I hope members of the General Assembly will see that a Section 1 bill does not create a work group ‘in perpetuity’ and they will stand with Virginia families to override the Governor’s veto.”

Patrick A. Hope is a Member of the Virginia General Assembly as the Delegate from the 47th District representing part of Arlington County.  He serves on the Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee and House Health, Welfare, and Institutions Committee.


Media Contact:

Mary P. Dooley, Legislative Assistant

Delegate Patrick Hope

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