(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today announced that the Ohio Department of Medicaid has received approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for its Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) initiative to enhance and expand Medicaid’s lead abatement program in partnership with the Ohio Department of Health.
“CMS approval of Ohio Medicaid’s plan to protect our families from lead poisoning is a meaningful step to ensure kids are safe in their homes,” said Governor DeWine. “As I said when I rolled out my plan to fight lead poisoning in March, no child should be poisoned in their own home. As a result of this approval, Medicaid dollars will be used in more meaningful ways to abate lead and make homes safe for families.”
With this approval, Medicaid will have greater flexibility to fund Ohio Department of Health lead hazard control projects in residences where a Medicaid-eligible child or pregnant woman live, and to remove lead hazards in residential properties within targeted areas of the state. The recently enacted state budget for state fiscal year 2020-2021 allocated $5 million in each year to fund this Ohio Department of Medicaid/Ohio Department of Health effort.
The new approval from CMS includes the following significant changes that will greatly improve the effectiveness of the Medicaid/Health program:
- Removal of both administrative and financial constraints that previously prevented many property owners from using the program. In the past, some types of home owners were required to provide a financial contribution toward the total cost of lead abatement projects, and all homeowners were required to provide proof of homeowners’ insurance and copies of birth certificates documenting the age of children living in the home. These requirements were removed to provide additional flexibility for property owners and their tenants.
- Permission to use program funding for workforce development, including hiring and training environmental case managers and community health workers who will provide educational support and outreach to the parents and guardians of low-income children and pregnant women who have lead poisoning.
- Approval to consider new types of properties for lead hazard control funding under the program, including the following non-primary residence property types where a Medicaid-eligible child under age 19 or a pregnant woman spends an average of 6 or more hours per week:
- Any residential properties occupied by tenants or owner-occupants (e.g., grandparent’s or a relative’s house).
- Residential properties in the process of becoming licensed for, or currently maintaining a license for the provision of childcare services.
- Added flexibility to use program funding for primary prevention activities, including to abate a wider range of properties in target areas of the state and to purchase supplies that have been shown to reduce the presence of lead hazards in the home (e.g., HEPA vacuums, water filters, and other cleaning supplies).
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 cognitive development, behavior, IQ, hearing and speech. Lead hazard control, including complete abatement of lead hazards, can prevent this type of harm.