THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
TIPPER GORE UNVEILS NEW STEPS ADMINISTRATION IS TAKING TO ELIMINATE
LEAD HAZARDS AND MAKE HOMES SAFE FOR CHILDREN NATIONWIDE
Today, Tipper Gore is unveiling important new steps to eliminate lead hazards at an event with Senator Jack Reid to unveil a new community based lead poisoning prevention center in Rhode Island. Tipper Gore will announce that this month, the Department of Housing and Urban Development will release $56 million to remove lead hazards in the homes of low income families. These new grants, which will protect almost 30,000 children from dangerous exposure to lead based paint hazards, will be released to over 20 cities and states. Mrs. Gore will also announce that the Department of Health and Human Services is sending important new guidance to every State Medicaid Director notifying them that states are required to provide blood lead tests annually to all children under the age of two enrolled in the Medicaid program and that Medicaid funds are available, under certain circumstances, for non-medical services necessary to effectively treat children with elevated blood levels.
MILLIONS OF YOUNG CHILDREN ARE AT RISK FOR LEAD POISONING. Childhood lead poisoning is the number one environmental health risk facing children in industrialized countries today. In the United States, almost one million children under the age of six - 16 percent of low income children and 21 percent of African American children living in older housing - have toxic levels of lead in their bodies. Currently, three-quarters of the nation's housing contains lead paint. However, the GAO reports that only 20 percent of Medicaid-eligible children are being screened for lead poisoning and that many states have not adopted the mandatory lead screening policy. In young children, lead slows the development of the central nervous system and brain, causing reduced IQ, reading and learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder and behavioral problems. As a result, childhood lead poisoning is associated with lower educational achievement, higher rates of high school drop-out and increased behavioral problems. It is estimated that lead poisoning has tripled the number of children needing special education.
THE CLINTON-GORE ADMINISTRATION TAKES NEW STEPS TO MAKE HOMES SAFE FOR LOW INCOME CHILDREN. Today, in order to address this public health hazard, Mrs. Gore will:
Announce the release of $56 million to make homes safe from lead hazards. Today, Mrs. Gore will announce that this month, the Department of Housing and Urban Development will release $56 million in grants to remove lead hazards in the homes of low income families. These new funds, which would protect almost 30,000 children from dangerous exposure to lead based paint hazards, would be released to over 20 cities and states. These grants will be used to fund initial inspection and risk assessments to identify the presence of lead based paint hazards in homes, such as dust and peeling paint; provide blood testing for children prior to beginning lead hazard control work; removing lead based paint from homes and yards; provide temporary housing for families whose homes are being treated; and launch community based education programs on how to protect children from lead hazards and the importance of blood lead screening. Reinforce that states are required to provide blood lead tests annually to all children under the age of two enrolled in the Medicaid program. Today, the Department of Health and Human Services will send a letter to all State Medicaid Directors reinforcing the statutory requirement to screen all children under the ages of one and two enrolled in the Medicaid program for elevated blood lead levels annually and to screen those children between two and three years of age that do not have a record of a previous blood lead screening test. In addition, any medically necessary follow-up services, including diagnostic, treatment, or case management services, must also be provided. Case management services can be used to coordinate access to a broad range of services for children enrolled in the Medicaid program, regardless of whether the Medicaid program is funding the service to which access is gained.
Clarify that Federal Medicaid funds are available in certain circumstances for non-medical services that may be needed to treat lead poisoning. The guidance being released today will announce that Medicaid funds are available for certain non-medical services necessary to effectively treat lead poisoning. Medicaid will cover the initial home assessment necessary to determine the source of lead for children diagnosed with elevated blood levels. In addition, States are encouraged to work with HCFA to design Federal waivers that will allow them to receive funding for individual lead abatement services, such as paint removal, in the homes of children with elevated blood lead levels enrolled in the Medicaid program.
Tipper Gore Has a Longstanding Commitment to Fighting Lead Hazards. Mrs. Gore is honorary chair of the Campaign for a Lead Safe America, the Administration's campaign formed in November 1997 between the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency to protect the nation's children from lead poisoning. The campaign includes a public education campaign using PSAs, videos using children's characters, outreach through major hardware retailers and training information to maintenance workers on how to do their work safely. In addition, HUD and EPA fund a toll-free hotline, 1 800 424 LEAD that gives callers information about lead hazards and disclosure requirements for homes.
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