Legislation Requiring Childhood Screening for Lead Exposure Passes Assembly

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Sacramento – Assemblymember Eloise Reyes’ (D-San Bernardino) legislation, AB 2276, passed the State Assembly with bipartisan support and now heads to the state Senate for consideration.  AB 2276 was introduced in response to a State Auditor’s Report, Childhood Lead Levels: Millions of Children in Medi-Cal Have Not Received Required Testing for Lead Poisoning that revealed over a million children in the Medi-Cal Program have not been properly screened for lead exposure. Under the state’s Medi-Cal program, children are required to be screened for lead exposure at the ages of one and two.  Lead exposure in children can lead to learning disabilities and serious health consequences.  This is particularly an issue for low-income communities where older homes may subject children to higher risk of lead exposure. 

“Earlier this year, the State Auditor released a report I had requested relating to the status of blood lead testing and services for California’s children.  This report confirmed our worst fears – that California’s children were overwhelmingly not receiving their mandated blood lead tests, nor are they receiving much needed services,” said Assemblymember Reyes. “AB 2276 will create mechanisms to ensure that California’s children are receiving their required blood lead tests and related services.  We must protect our most vulnerable children from the developmental and health impacts of toxic lead exposure.  It’s unacceptable that we haven’t done so to date. AB 2276 will be a crucial step in remedying this.”

AB 2276 requires the department to annually report on the department’s progress of meeting the requirement to ensure that every eligible child receives blood lead screening.  It also specifies that DHCS is not allowed to contract with managed care providers who are not compliant with mandated blood lead tests.

The Auditor’s report was in response to a request made by Assemblymember Reyes and Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D- Bakersfield) to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee that was approved on March 6th, 2019.  AB 2276 is a part of a package, borne out of this report, alongside AB 2277 (Salas) and AB 2279 (C. Garcia).

Ultimately, the audit report revealed that between 2009 and 2018, more than 1.4 million of the 2.9 million one- and two-year-old children enrolled in Medi-Cal did not receive any of the required lead tests, and another 740,000 children missed one of the two required tests, meaning only 27% of eligible children received all the required screenings.

Full Audit Report at https://www.auditor.ca.gov/reports/2019-105/index.html

Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes represents Assembly District 47 which includes the cities of Fontana, Rialto, Colton, Grand Terrace, San Bernardino and the unincorporated areas of Muscoy and Bloomington.

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