(CLEVELAND, Ohio)— Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today announced his recommendation that Ohio invest more than $10 million over the next two years to address lead poisoning in Ohio.
“It is unconscionable to me that in 2019, there are still children whose opportunities are stifled because they live in homes where they are exposed to lead paint. Every year, thousands of Ohio children under the age of six test positive for unsafe lead levels. Undoubtedly, there are countless more who have never been tested,” said Governor DeWine. “This effort focuses on making homes safe for families, helping to ensure kids are tested, and getting affected kids the early intervention they need to address the damage caused by lead. No child should be poisoned in their own home.”
Governor DeWine recommends that lead poisoning should be a multi-pronged approach including:
- Testing. Holding providers and managed care organizations accountable for testing all eligible children. Currently just 60 percent of Medicaid-eligible children are tested each year. Lead Screenings for eligible children will continue to be a Medicaid-billable service.
- Early Intervention Services. Governor DeWine has recommended providing an additional $24 million to the Department of Developmental Disabilities’ Early Intervention Program to among other things help provide physical, speech, and occupational therapy services to children who have dangerously high levels of lead in their blood.
- Lead Investigations and Abatement. When a child tests positive for dangerous levels of lead, if it is their home that’s poisoning them, Governor DeWine recommends continuing the state’s investment in helping make homes safe. The Department of Medicaid has agreed to assume the 50 percent matching requirement for eligible families to participate in the state-sponsored lead abatement program. The Department of Health will provide $10 million in State Child Health Insurance Program funding over the biennium to fund the investigations and abatement.
- Abatement Tax Credit. Governor DeWine has recommended an income tax credit with a maximum of up to $10,000 for eligible individuals who have incurred expenses to make their homes lead-safe.
- Expanding Lead Workers and Contractors Workforce. Often families face the obstacle of finding licensed workers to make their homes safe. Governor DeWine recommends the Department of Health set aside $450,000 over the biennium to reimburse individuals the costs of becoming licensed lead workers and contractors in order to increase the lead hazard control workforce.
- Seamless State Approach. Governor DeWine has tasked the Director of Children’s Initiatives to convene an internal working group made up of experts from the Ohio Departments of Health, Development Services, Medicaid, and Job and Family Services, to streamline and improve the state’s lead detection, abatement, and early intervention services.
Lead exposure is a serious preventable, environmental public health threat to children, who are exposed to deteriorating lead paint (dust) in houses and apartments built prior to 1978. Exposure to lead causes issues with genitive development, behavior, IQ, hearing and speech.
Additional details will be released when Governor DeWine submits his operating budget to the General Assembly for consideration on March 15, 2019. The new state fiscal year begins on July 1.