Seventy-six percent of children enrolled in Medicaid in nine states did not receive one or more recommended medical, vision or hearing screenings in 2007, according to a study released recently by HHS' Office of the Inspector General, the AP/Baltimore Sun reports.
The federal government's medical screening requirements for children younger than age 21 include:
- A comprehensive health and developmental history;
- An unclothed physician examination;
- Lab tests; and
- Health education.
The study found that 2.7 million of the 3.8 million children on Medicaid in Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Texas, Vermont and West Virginia did not receive required screenings.
According to the findings, 41% of children did not receive any required medical screenings, while more than 50% did not receive any required vision or hearing screenings. About 60% of children who were screened missed at least one of the five requirements. Lab tests were missed the most often, according to the report.
Children often miss the screenings because of administrative issues, missed appointments or difficulty finding a physician who accepts Medicaid, according to state officials.
Physicians have said that regular health screenings are particularly important for low-income children, who have a higher risk of chronic problems, such as obesity and depression. Missed checkups can prevent physicians from detecting issues early, which can increase the chance that such issues develop into something more significant, according to the AP/Sun.
The study recommended that CMS work with states to increase physician participation, outreach efforts and data reporting (Kennedy, AP/Baltimore Sun, 5/24).