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Boback’s Pulse Oximetry Testing Bill to Receive Consideration in House Human Services Committee

HARRISBURG – During a press conference held Tuesday on the steps of the Pennsylvania Capitol, House Human Services Committee Chairman Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks) announced that he is committed to holding a vote on House Bill 1420, which requires pulse oximetry testing for newborns.  The bill was authored by Rep. Karen Boback (R-Columbia/Luzerne/Wyoming).

“Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defects across the nation,” Boback said.  “Many heart defects in newborns are currently going undetected.  Pulse oximetry testing has the potential to change that.”

To view Rep. Boback’s video comments, click on this link:

Pulse oximetry is a blood oxygen test that can detect congenital heart defects or CHD.  Recent studies have shown that this testing, with wide use, could detect 90 percent of congenital heart defects.  The American Heart Association estimates the cost of a single pulse oximetry screening to be between $1 to $4. 

“I am expecting a vote on this legislation in October,” DiGirolamo said.  “I fully expect this legislation to be considered by the full House, and eventually, the Senate.”

If this legislation is signed into law, Pennsylvania would join a growing number of states that require pulse oximetry testing.

“This has the overwhelming support of the medical community,” said Dr. Thomas Chin, professor and chief of cardiology for the Department of Pediatrics at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.  Chin had experience with pulse oximetry testing while practicing in Tennessee.

“In states where this has been enacted, including Tennessee, it has already improved detection of congenital heart defects,” he said.

The press conference served as the kick-off for the American Heart Association’s “Faces of Hope” campaign.  The campaign features the stories of children born across the state with congenital heart defects. 

“Five of the children featured in this campaign joined us today in Harrisburg,” said Jen Ebersole, Pennsylvania government affairs director with the American Heart Association.  “We plan to meet with legislators in the House and Senate to emphasize the importance of this bill.”

“The cost of this screening is the equivalent of a hospital diaper change,” Boback added.  “I am hopeful that my colleagues will get behind this important legislation.”

For more legislative updates, go to

Representative Karen Boback
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact:  Nick Ruffner
717.260.6258 /
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