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    Maryland agencies pursue program to reduce lead poisoning, asthma cases

    Health, the Environment, Housing apply to U.S. government for program approval 

    Baltimore, MD (January 23, 2017) – The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announced today that it – in partnership with the Department of the Environment and the Department of Housing and Community Development – has applied to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to develop an initiative to reduce lead poisoning and to improve asthma, two conditions related to environmental conditions in housing.
    The program would leverage federal funds available through the Maryland Medicaid Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to eliminate sources of lead poisoning in housing, to build capacity in local health departments to reduce lead poisoning and asthma related to housing conditions, and to address lead and asthma health disparities.
    “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 R. 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 life-long impacts of these diseases.”
    The new program would have two parts. The first component would involve a partnership between Health and Mental Hygiene and Housing and Community Development to expand lead identification and abatement programs delivered by the latter agency. The second would expand local health departments’ programs that help families and health care providers to identify and to eliminate sources of lead exposures and asthma triggers in homes. The programs would both be coordinated with the Department of the Environment’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, prioritizing people affected by lead.
    “We look forward to working with the departments of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Environment to ensure healthy housing for Maryland’s families,” said Housing and Community Development Secretary Kenneth C. Holt.
    If approved, up to $3.7 million dollars in CHIP federal matching funds could be available to the State, to supplement $500,000 that Governor Larry Hogan authorized Medicaid to use in fiscal year 2017 for lead abatement purposes. An additional $2.6 million could potentially be available to the State in fiscal year 2018 to fund the local health departments’ programs that serve families with children affected by lead or asthma.
    “This continues Governor Hogan's emphasis on eradicating the lingering problem of lead poisoning through comprehensive, coordinated, and creative actions,” said Department of the Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles.