Photo: NIOSH (Wikimedia Commons)
An Indiana lawmaker says she plans to continue fighting for legislation that would make it easier to identify lead poisoning in children.
Sen. Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis) introduced Senate Bill 322 this session, but it never got a hearing. The proposal would require all healthcare providers to give a lead poisoning questionnaire to children who are 6-years-old or younger and on Medicaid.
The questionnaire would help identify children who are from communities in Indiana known for increased exposure to lead, like South Bend and Indianapolis. If the child is at risk, healthcare providers would be required to administer a lead poisoning test.
Breaux says while medical providers are required to test all children enrolled in Medicaid for lead, it’s not happening. She says there’s a compliance rate of 30 percent or less.
“This is really not a problem that the state has as much as it’s a provider problem, that the providers are not aware that this is a requirement and therefore it’s not being adhere to at the provider levels,” Breaux.
She says this bill would require a public health investigation if a child’s blood lead level reveals at least five micrograms per deciliter.
It would also require an investigation of the child’s home, childcare center or school, if a child’s blood lead level reveals at least 10 micrograms per deciliter.
But if the child is over the age of 6 but less than 16-years-old and still falls in the range of at least five micrograms per deciliter, then the commissioner may also order an investigation.
Breaux says she’s hopeful some parts of the bill can be implemented without legislative approval.
“I’m hoping administratively, at the very least, we can get this survey adopted by the State Department of Health so that they will distribute this to all of their Medicaid providers to inform that they now need to fill out this survey and return the results to the department of health,” Breaux says.
Breaux says she’s been in communication with State Health Commissioner Kristina Box about the issue.
Regardless of its fate at the Statehouse, Breaux plans to work with the Indiana State Department of Health to implement the policy statewide.