Senators React to Follow-Up Report on America’s Foster Children and Improperly Prescribed Mind-Altering Medications

WASHINGTON – Today, Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) reacted to the finalized results of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, “Foster Children: Department of Health and Human Services Could Help States Improve Oversight of Psychotropic Prescriptions.” The report expands on testimony released earlier this month, which was the subject of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management Subcommittee hearing, “The Financial and Societal Costs of Medicating America’s Foster Children.” Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are co-requestors of the report.

In the latest report, GAO includes detailed information and data on the states studied – Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Texas and Oregon – as well as reactions to the findings from the Department of Health and Human Services and each state government included in the study. To view a copy of the report, click here.

“My reaction to this month’s hearing and today’s report examining potentially dangerous and improper prescribing of mind-altering drugs for America’s foster children is one of deep concern and resolve,” said Sen. Carper, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management. “Concern for the safety and wellbeing of these vulnerable children, and as well as the integrity of Medicaid and the foster systems that care for them. The resolve comes from my commitment to seeing these problems fixed so we can again be confident in the care our foster children receive from Medicaid.

“At our hearing nearly two weeks ago, we heard from numerous experts on this disturbing issue and its profound impact on foster children, including the powerful testimony of Ke’onte Cook, a 12-year-old former foster child who gave us an all-too-clear picture of what it’s like to live under the fog of improperly prescribed mind-altering medications,” continued Sen. Carper. “At the hearing, I asked the Department of Health and Human services to quickly provide my colleagues and I with specific, concrete steps the Administration will be taking in the coming days and weeks to begin tackling this serious problem, as well as legislative solutions that Congress could act on to ensure that this problem is addressed as soon as possible. Something must be done to fix this broken system. As I’ve said before, although this is a complex problem, that is no excuse for not tackling it head on. Thousands of foster children across the country, many with stories like Ke’onte’s, are depending on us to fix this deeply flawed policy and I intend to work with my colleagues to do just that.”

“We have a fundamental responsibility to provide for the health and welfare of these children,” said Sen. Collins. “We provide funding for their medical care, for the foster systems that support their welfare, and for the schools they attend. Our responsibility does not, however, end with writing a check. The GAO report suggests that we have a long way to go before we have fulfilled our responsibilities to these children and young people.”