By Kevin Lavery, KWMU
St. Louis, MO – An HMO tasked with testing some 19,000 St. Louis area children for lead poisoning will pay the state of Missouri $1.1 million for failing to perform those tests.
State Attorney General Jay Nixon first filed suit against Healthcare USA of Missouri three years ago. Nixon says in 1998, the company tested only 17% of 2-year-old children for which it was responsible.
He says funds from the settlement will go towards outreach programs to screen more children for lead. "Since this is such a specific problem that every day that goes by that you don't get kids tested is another day they're not developing," Nixon says. "Our focus throughout our litigation has been to make sure that we increase the testing rates to as close to 100 percent as possible."
Nixon says by fiscal year 2002, Healthcare USA's rate of performed screenings had increased by more than 300%.