Salas Leads Oversight Hearing to Address Childhood Lead Poisoning
Sacramento, CA – Yesterday, Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), chair of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, joined members of the Committee to address the failures by the state health departments to protect millions of children from being exposed to lead.
In January 2020, the State Auditor released a report that found millions of children in Medi-Cal are not receiving the proper lead tests and that the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is not prioritizing the prevention of lead poisoning. State law requires that children enrolled in Medi-Cal receive tests for elevated lead levels between the ages of one and two years old. The report identified that more than 1.4 million children did not receive any of the required tests.
“The Departments of Public Health and Health Care Services have failed the state’s children, letting them potentially going undiagnosed for lead poisoning,” said Assemblymember Salas. “We demand that they take these issues seriously, and test these children and provide them the services they need. That is why my colleagues and I have introduced a package of legislation, AB 2276 – AB 2279 to address these issues. Change needs to happen.”
During the hearing, members of the Committee heard testimony from Elaine Howle, California State Auditor, as well as representatives from the California Department of Public Health, Health Care Services, and experts from University of California, Davis. During testimony, the department representatives vowed to continue to monitor the situation and make progress on implementing the auditor’s recommendations to increase required lead testing rates and remediation efforts.
Additionally, Assemblymember Salas and colleagues have introduced a legislative package to ensure that the departments follow through and improve in their efforts to prevent and protect children from lead poisoning including the following:
AB 2276 (Reyes, Salas, Garcia, Quirk, Leyva) requires DHCS to prepare provider training guidelines, curriculum and resources to educate providers about childhood lead poisoning prevention, exposure risks, health effects, and sources of exposure, and requires DHCS to ensure that children in specified age groups receive blood lead screening tests.
AB 2277 (Salas, Reyes, Garcia, Quirk, Leyva) requires DHCS to notify parents/legal guardians about lead testing requirements for children who missed required lead screening tests. The bill would also require certain health plans to identify children who have not received lead tests and notify providers.
AB 2278 (Quirk, Salas, Reyes, Garcia, Leyva) requires labs to report contact information and unique identifiers with children’s lead test results so that no children who have been lead exposed fall through the cracks from receiving state services to abate their lead exposure sources.
AB 2279 (Garcia, Salas, Reyes, Quirk, Leyva) updates the risk factors for lead exposure that health care providers must use to determine whether children are at risk of lead exposure.
SB 1008 (Leyva, Salas, Reyes, Garcia, Quirk) requires CDPH to create an online lead information registry that allows the public to determine the lead inspection and abatement status for properties.
Assemblymember Salas represents part of the City of Bakersfield, the cities of Arvin, Hanford, Corcoran, Delano, Lemoore, McFarland, Shafter, Wasco, and the communities of Armona, Avenal, Buttonwillow, Home Garden, Kettleman City, Lamont, Lost Hills, Stratford and Weedpatch.