Wednesday, May 12, 2004

CareSource to increase lead-poison tests for kids

By Tim Bonfield
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The company that runs Medicaid managed-care health plans in 13 Southwest Ohio counties says it plans to step up lead-poisoning testing for young children.

CareSource, which includes Medicaid patients in Hamilton, Butler, Clermont and Warren counties, is training staff to encourage more lead testing for 1- and 2-year-olds.

CareSource covers more than 4,100 1-year-olds and 2-year-olds in those counties. The outreach program is a reaction to findings from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services that not enough children covered by Medicaid are getting required testing for lead exposure.

Federal law requires all children 2 and younger in Medicaid to be screened for lead poisoning. But many haven't been tested.

State reports, based on limited screening programs, show that more than 400 children in Greater Cincinnati were detected in 2002 with enough lead in their blood to damage learning ability.

CareSource and other Medicaid managed-care insurers elsewhere in Ohio could face payment cuts from the state if they fail to record lead testing results this year for at least 45 percent of their enrolled 1-year-olds.

In 2003, CareSource reported that 40.2 percent of 1-year-olds got tested. That was up from 36.6 percent in 2002.


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