Health and Human Services

Blood-lead testing and outreach bill advanced

A bill that would create a lead poisoning prevention program was advanced from general file March 22.

LB1038, introduced by Omaha Sen. Brenda Council, originally would have required all students entering kindergarten to have undergone blood-lead testing.

An Education Committee amendment, adopted 34-0, replaced the bill and instead would authorize the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) division of public health to create an education and outreach program for school children.

Under the program, a coordinated plan to prevent childhood lead poisoning would:
• educate health care providers, child care providers, public school personnel and parents about the risks of lead poisoning;
• provide a standard to be used in identifying elevated blood-lead levels; and
• recommend that a child be tested for elevated blood-lead levels if the child resides in a zip code with a high prevalence of children with elevated blood-lead levels or if the child meets one of the criteria in a screening questionnaire developed by DHHS.

The amendment specifies that the department would not be required to pay the cost of elevated blood-lead testing except for children who participate in the Medicaid program.

Senators advanced the bill to select file on a 32-0 vote.

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