News Round-up: Foster Children On Medicaid Are Overly Medicated

December 2, 2011

A study of five states found that foster children are more likely than other kids to be given mind-altering drugs, including antipsychotics and antidepressants.

The Wall Street Journal: Foster Kids Are Overly Medicated, Report Says
Foster children on Medicaid received psychotropic drugs — including antipsychotics and antidepressants — at a higher rate than other children covered by the government insurance program, according to a federal report released Thursday. The study by the Government Accountability Office is raising concern among lawmakers and medical experts that doctors are overprescribing psychiatric drugs to treat children in the foster-care system (Burton, 12/2).

In addition, Jenny Gold reports that foster kids are more likely to be given psychotropic drugs: "Kids in foster care are significantly more likely than other children to be given mind-altering drugs, according to a study of five states released Thursday by the Government Accountability Office" (12/1).

CQ HealthBeat: Concerns Over Antipsychotic Drug Prescriptions For Foster Kids Spur Potential Legislation
Sens. Scott P. Brown and Thomas R. Carper plan to write bipartisan legislation to reduce the risks that children in foster care would be inappropriately prescribed psychotropic drugs. At a hearing before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Bryan Samuels, commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services' Administration on Children, Youth and Families, said that HHS would give the panel recommendations on what to include in a bill and would try to steer states to do more to prevent overmedicating foster children (Adams, 12/1).

Boston Globe: Foster Children Prescribed Drugs At Higher Rate
Foster children in Massachusetts are nearly four times as likely to be prescribed psychotropic drugs as other children receiving similar Medicaid support in the state, an alarming figure released in a government report yesterday. The Government Accountability Office examined the rates of such prescriptions for foster and non-foster children insured by Medicaid in five states, including Florida, Michigan, Oregon, and Texas, using 2008 data. It found that foster children, including infants, were prescribed the drugs at rates 2.7 to 4.5 times higher than other children (Jan, 12/2).

This article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.