Medicaid Expands for Children, Pregnant Women Poisoned by Flint Water

Davarious Griffin, 5, who has had elevated levels of lead detected in his blood, plays outside of his house in Flint, Mich. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Thousand of children and pregnant women exposed to lead in the drinking water in Flint, Mich., will have access to health care, under an emergency Medicaid expansion announced Thursday.  

The Department of Health and Human Services said the measure would extent Medicaid eligibility to approximately 15,000 children and pregnant women exposed to contaminated water last year, when state and federal officials for months failed to inform the city's residents of elevated levels of lead and bacteria. The agreement would also provide extended coverage for approximately 30,000 Flint residents already eligible for Medicaid. HHS did not say how much the expanded services would cost.  

The New 9th Ward: 'Flint's Katrina' Is Still Going On

Trayvon Chatman and his girlfriend took their two children to stay in a $135-a-week hotel just outside the city line. “What choice do we have? This is their future,” he says. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

FLINT, Mich.-- A sign hanging over a shuttered, bricked-over storefront along a main business thoroughfare conveys a message from another time. "Where dreams come true," it says.  

A congressional delegation arriving here Friday will find plenty of evidence that's not how it turned out in one of the nation's most disadvantaged cities. There are broken windows and sagging roofs on the factory workers’ bungalows now, a note on the door of a party supply store saying that it's closed after 18 years, and pamphlets on how to win the lottery are for sale at corner stores in neighborhoods where school supplies are hard to find. Since revelations that more than 9,000 Flint children were poisoned for months by drinking  lead-contaminated water, members of Congress have called the crisis  “Flint’s Katrina.” And like the hurricane that devastated whole neighborhoods in New Orleans, the slow-motion, unnatural disaster here has exposed entrenched poverty and inequality.  

Senate Reaches Deal on Flint Aid

Michigan Democratic Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters have pushed for federal dollars to support Flint. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senators have reached an agreement on delivering aid to address the water crisis in Flint, Mich., but work continues on finding a way to get the bill across the floor.  

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., filed a bill Wednesday that would provide additional funds and loans to enhance safe drinking water and to improve water infrastructure, according to bill text obtained by Roll Call. The agreement comes after weeks of negotiations on how to provide aid to the city, where corroded pipes have poisoned the water supply. Stabenow and Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., originally attempted to attach an amendment aiding Flint to an energy bill, but an impasse over offsets stalled that effort.  

Visiting Flint, House Members Vow to Help

Virginia Mitchell, right, and her daughter-in-law Tiara Williams leave the the Sylvester Broome Center in Flint, Mich., Monday after receiving cases of bottled water.. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

FLINT, Mich. -- Saginaw Street was once a symbol of downtown revitalization in this city. Restaurants with gleaming dining rooms serve locally sourced meals and the apartment buildings advertise industrial lofts. Now people are afraid to eat out in a city where water testing has shown dangerously high levels of lead, and boarded-up businesses and abandoned homes on the edge of town serve as a reminder of how quickly the situation here could unravel.  

After a day spent meeting in Flint with business owners struggling to stay afloat and with families concerned about health effects, a delegation of House Democrats pledged on Monday to deliver federal support.