WASHINGTON, DC – Following the urging of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released guidance on blood lead testing for children enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Blood lead testing helps medical professionals identify children with elevated blood lead levels in order to help these children receive medical attention before they are harmed. Lead exposure can leave children with lifelong health issues, including difficulty learning or testing in school and behavioral problems like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). CMS’ guidance helps clarify best practices and establish guidelines for states to meet testing requirements under Medicaid and CHIP.
“In light of high levels of lead found in homes and schools across Ohio, we know that lead exposure is still a threat to our children, even in 2016,” said Brown. “Children are most vulnerable to the effects of lead exposure, and I’m glad to see CMS is working to increase the rate of screening and reporting.”
In July, Brown wrote a letter to CMS urging the agency to reevaluate its policy regarding lead screening for Medicaid-eligible children and to identify and disseminate best practices for states to reduce barriers to blood lead screening and testing for children across the country. An estimated four million households across the United States are exposed to high levels of lead.
Brown also cosponsored the Lead Testing in School and Child Care Drinking Water Act of 2016, legislation that would create a new grant program to help schools conduct regular testing through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help daycare centers and school districts test their drinking water for potential lead contamination. In September, part of Brown’s bill advanced in the Senate, which authorized $20 million annually for testing in schools in the Water Resources Development Act – a critical water infrastructure bill that is awaiting a final vote by the Congress.
The Senate also passed provisions sponsored by Brown to help communities like Flint, Michigan, and Sebring, Ohio, including a provision Brown introduced earlier this year that requires the EPA to notify communities within 15 days when lead is discovered in drinking water.