Promoting and protecting the health and safety of all Idahoans

Idaho Medicaid Lead Testing Program

It is important to test our Idaho children for lead.

  • Did you know lead can be found in your drinking water? Lead enters tap water through corrosion of plumbing materials. Homes built before 1986 are more likely to have lead pipes, fixtures and solder. However, new homes are also at risk: even legally “lead-free” plumbing may contain up to 8 percent lead. The most common problem is with brass or chrome-plated brass faucets and fixtures which can leach significant amounts of lead into the water, especially hot water.
  • Many homes built before 1978 have lead-based paint, which can then get into the soil or dust around the house.  Please take time to educate yourself and parents about the dangers of lead in the environment.
  • Contact the National Lead Information Center at (800) 424-LEAD, or your local health district with any questions or concerns.

The Medical Care Unit manages Idaho Medicaid's lead testing program.

Many providers are not aware that lead poisoning can still be a problem for Idaho’s children.  Because of evidence that children eligible for Medicaid may be at higher risk for lead exposure, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) has mandated that children eligible for Medicaid be tested for elevated blood lead levels (BLL) at 12 and 24 months, or between 24 months and 21 years of age if they have not been previously tested.  According to the CDC Guidelines, a sample result of 5 µg/dL or greater is considered an elevated Blood Lead Level.  Providers should begin asking questions when the child is six months old to determine the child’s risk for high-dose lead exposure.
Elevated blood lead levels have been linked to developmental disabilities and other serious conditions in children, including reduced IQ, hyperactivity, nervous system, and kidney damage. Children under the age of six are at highest risk.
The good news is that a simple blood test can help identify children at risk for lead poisoning and allow parents and caregivers to get help to identify and eliminate lead risks in the child’s environment.
Medicaid will reimburse providers for lead testing (CPT 83655) performed by a venous blood draw or capillary test, and the Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) will provide a LeadCare Analyzer machine to providers at no cost. This machine tests for lead by a simple capillary test ("finger prick").  The results are available immediately.
If a child has a blood lead test with a result of 5 µg/dL or greater, providers are required, under Idaho law, to report the case to the public health authorities at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Office of Epidemiology and Food Protection, or their local health district. Epidemiologists or Environmental Health Specialists at the local health district will provide parents or guardians with important educational resources such as information on household hazards and nutritional guidelines. Refer to the links on the right side of this page for more information and educational materials about lead.

To request a Lead Care Analyzer machine, simply fill out the Provider Agreement located under "Forms".  Submit the Agreement by mail or by fax to Medical Care Unit:

Lead Screening Program
Division of Mediciad
PO Box 83720
Boise, ID 83720-0036

Fax: (208) 332-7280

Or e-mail the signed agreement

Once the agreement is received, DHW will sign it and send it to the provider along with the LeadCare analyzer.  Included with the analyzer are complete instructions and training materials.

If you are a provider and have questions about the program, please call (208) 364-1835.

Announcement: March 2008

In order for programs to meet and comply with Head Start Program Performance Standards, Head Start programs must ensure that all children receive a lead toxicity screening. The CMS requirement states that, "At this time, states may not adopt a statewide plan for lead poisoning that does not require blood screening for lead toxicity for all Medicaid-eligible children." (Refer to “Head Start Requirements”)

As a provider, do not turn down referrals for lead testing. This is a mandatory requirement and will affect children entering the Head Start Program if denied testing.