A Michigan plan to extend expanded Medicaid coverage to thousands of children, young adults and expectant mothers might become the state's most aggressive tool for tracking the long-term consequences of lead poisoning from the city's contaminated water.
Gov. Rick Snyder has asked for expanded Medicaid coverage for nearly 15,000 Flint residents who are either pregnant women or under age 21. He has also asked to expand income eligibility for the program to up to 400% of the federal poverty level.
The coverage will provide beneficiaries with early and periodic screening, as well as diagnostic and treatment benefits that cover many conditions and illnesses.
There is no equivalent benefit in private coverage, said Steve Fitton, who was Michigan's Medicaid director until June 2015. Fitton is now a principal at Health Management Associates.
According to the CMS, the goal of the expanded benefit is to ensure that children get the healthcare they need when they need it. Benefits are offered through different stages in children's lives, and the state is required to annually report certain data to the CMS about service delivery under the benefit. The program may provide health officials with the information they need to determine how lead poisoning has affected the Flint population.