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House renews newborn screening law pushed by Jim Kelly

WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to renew legislation that helps states to expand their newborn health screening programs – a measure first made law six years ago after a push from retired Buffalo Bills great Jim Kelly and his wife, Jill.

The House passed the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act by voice vote, extending a measure that provides federal support to states for their programs to screen newborns for rare conditions such as Krabbe disease, which claimed the life of Kelly’s eight-year-old son, Hunter, in 2005.

“Providing ample funding for newborn screening is essential for improving child health care and saving lives,” said Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, who said the bill “will modernize our newborn screening processes and immediately assist families in New York and across the country.”

Kelly, who is now ill with cancer, traveled to the Capitol to lobby for the legislation’s renewal last year.

“The bottom line is that all states need to be screening for as many diseases as possible,” Kelly said at the time. “Federal support, including the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act, can help ensure that newborn screening in the United States continues to be a priority so that future generations do not have to suffer and die needlessly, like my son Hunter and so many others.”

The legislation now moves on to the Senate.