New Jersey.com - Obama signs Lance bill to reduce premature births
By Steve Strunsky
Legislation co-sponsored by Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7th District) intended to reduce the rate of premature births was signed into law by President Obama on Monday, Lance's office announced.
The PREEMIE Reauthorization Act renews an original version of the law that expired in 2011. It provides federal funding of research into the cause and prevention of premature births, creates incentives for private research, and calls for coordination between government agencies and healthcare providers including hospitals to promote best practices.
Lance co-sponsored the House version the bill with Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Cal.), and the bill also had bipartisan sponsorship in the Senate.
"This legislation will advance the great progress made since the 2006 act," Lance told fellow lawmakers last month, just before the House voted t approve the reauthorization bill. "This is how Congress should work -- together."
The original legislation was signed by President George W. Bush in 2006, when Lance said 12.8 percent of the nation's births were premature. Since then, he said, the rate has fallen to 11.7 percent nationwide. In New Jersey, Lance said, the rate fell from 12.9 percent to 11.7.
Children born prematurely are more likely to suffer lifelong disabilities, including cerebral palsy, respiratory problems, vision and hearing loss and learning disabilities, according to the March of Dimes, a strong backer of the law. The monetary cost of premature births, in terms of added healthcare expenses, is estimated at $51,000 per child, or $26 billion nationwide.