Audit of Blood Lead Testing Requested by Assemblymember Reyes Approved in Committee

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Sacramento –Today, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee approved an audit request by Assemblymember Eloise Reyes (D-San Bernardino) to examine the state’s efforts to ensure that children enrolled in Medi-Cal receive blood lead tests and associated services.  Currently, data does not exist on how many children who are eligible have actually received the appropriate test and services.  The Department of Health Care Services can only verify approximately 28% of children on Medi-Cal who have received federally and state mandated blood lead test.   The audit, to be conducted by the California State Auditor, will review policies and procedures to determine where gaps exist in the current blood lead screening process and what policy changes may be necessary to ensure full compliance.

“We have seen nationwide, from Flint, Michigan to communities in California the devastating effects of lead exposure in children and adults.”  Assemblymember Reyes continued, “I requested this audit to get a better understanding of the Department of Health Care Services and Department of Public Health’s efforts to identify children that have lead exposure so that children who have been exposed can get appropriate treatment. With studies illustrating that young children in low income areas are disproportionately impacted by lead exposure, ensuring that children on Medi-Cal are receiving their federally and state mandated blood lead tests will help save numerous children from a myriad of permanent developmental problems.”

Susan Little, Senior Advocate for the Environmental Working Group stated, “We know that most at-risk children – children on Medi-Cal – do not receive protective lead tests, but we don’t know why this is happening.  Assembly Member Reyes’ requested audit will give us the information needed to tackle this troubling problem.  We are thrilled that the Joint Legislative Audit Committee has agreed to audit the state’s work to protect young children from lead exposure.  We look forward to learning about the State Auditor’s findings.”

As many as 88% of California’s lead-poisoned kids are enrolled in Medi-Cal, yet 50-75% of the state’s 12 and 24-month old children who are enrolled in Medi-Cal have not received blood lead screenings in accordance with federal and state regulations.  A finding published last year in the journal Pediatrics found that more than 63 percent of California’s children with elevated blood lead levels above 10mcg/dL have not been identified.

JLAC Letter FINAL.pdf

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