Prevention of Lead Poisoning Bill Protecting Children Passes Assembly Health Committee
SACRAMENTO, CA – Assembly Bill (AB) 2277, authored by Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) to protect the millions of children who have not received required blood lead screening tests, passed out of the Assembly Committee on Health unanimously with bipartisan support.
“This issue has plagued communities throughout the Valley and around the State, with some areas experiencing lead rates double than those found in Flint, Michigan,” said Assemblymember Salas. “Protecting our children from lead poising is critically important because we know that lead poisoning results in detrimental and negative health outcomes for our children."
AB 2277 will require Medi-Cal managed care health plans to identify, on a quarterly basis, children who have not received blood lead screening tests. The plans must then notify the responsible health care provider of the need to provide the blood lead screening test.
“The state’s failure to ensure lead testing for toddlers on Medi-Cal is an ongoing crisis that demands urgent attention," said Susan Little, an advocate for the Environmental Working Group. “These children are most likely to be lead-poisoned – 88 percent of California's lead poisoned children are on Medi-Cal. Safeguarding their health must be a priority.”
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.
California ranks 31st among states in the nation for providing lead tests to 1- and 2- year-old children. When the State Auditor's Office reviewed data maintained by the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), they found that the rate of eligible children receiving the proper lead tests was less than 27 percent. Without these tests, health care providers do not know whether these children are suffering from elevated lead levels and need treatment.
Lead exposure and lead poisoning are associated with serious health impacts, especially to children.
AB 2277 will next be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
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.