Governor Larry Hogan Announces Multi-Agency Efforts to Reduce Lead Poisoning, Asthma Cases
State Departments of Health, Environment, and Housing to Direct $7 Million to Local Communities
Annapolis, MD (June 29, 2017) – Governor Larry Hogan today announced that the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has approved an application by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to launch a $7.2 million initiative to reduce lead poisoning and improve asthma, two conditions related to environmental conditions in housing. The department, in collaboration with the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, will implement the initiative.
“This funding is a major step forward in our efforts to prevent these health problems and provide a healthy and safe environment for all Marylanders,” said Governor Hogan. “This funding is a major step in preventing these health problems and providing a healthy and safe environment for our most vulnerable citizens.”
“We know that housing conditions can severely affect a child’s health, and this program would enable us to get to the root of the problems for many children,” said Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Dennis Schrader. “It would go beyond merely treating a child with asthma or lead poisoning – it would seek to prevent exposures to the triggers, causes and social determinants of these conditions, which is the best means of preventing the lifelong impacts of these diseases.”
“At the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, we work every day to ensure Marylanders have access to safe and healthy housing,” said Secretary Kenneth C. Holt. “We look forward to continuing this strong partnership with the departments of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Environment.”
“We are making progress but have much more to do to win the battles against childhood lead poisoning and asthma in Maryland,” said Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles. “The Hogan administration is committed to enforcing Maryland’s lead law and improving the quality of our air for the health and well-being of all Marylanders, and this initiative helps on both counts.”
The initiative comprises two parts: Through the first program, Healthy Homes for Healthy Kids, the Departments of Health and Mental Hygiene and Housing and Community Development will collaborate to expand lead identification and abatement programs. The second program, Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention & Environmental Case Management, strengthens local health department programs that help families and health care providers to identify and to eliminate sources of lead exposures and asthma triggers in homes.
Both programs will benefit from the state’s 2016 initiative aimed at testing all young children for lead exposure. In addition, they fulfill the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s commitment to improving lead and asthma outcomes and reducing health disparities for children across the state. The Department of the Environment’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program will coordinate both programs.
The initiative leverages federal funds available through the Maryland Medicaid Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) under the authority of a Health Services Initiative State Plan Amendment. The Healthy Homes for Healthy Kids Program will receive $4.17 million in funding, using a combination of $3.67 million in CHIP federal matching funds and $500,000 in State fiscal year 2018 funds. The Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention & Environmental Case Management Program will receive $3 million in total funding, using a combination of $2.64 million in CHIP federal matching funds and $360,000 in state funds.
Exposure to lead can result in major physical and neurological damage to children, having negative consequences for their educational attainment and health. Low-income children who live in older housing are particularly vulnerable to lead exposure. In addition, childhood asthma is a major cause of missed days of school and emergency room visits, and these consequences are more severe in low-income families. Improvements in these two conditions will be a significant benefit to Maryland’s children and families.