Statements and Speeches

WASHINGTON - Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) released the following statement on the hearing, "Prescription Drug Abuse: How are Medicare and Medicaid Adapting to the Challenge?:"

"First, I wish to echo my colleagues that have recognized the importance of improved cooperation and coordination between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Medicare, and the state Medicaid offices to reduce prescription drug abuse. I believe there is a very important opportunity from improved cooperation between federal and state agencies, as well as our partners in the private and non-profit sectors, when addressing this problem – specifically the overprescribing of psychotropic medications for children, especially for those under state care.

"The over-prescription of psychotropic medication to foster children is an issue that my subcommittee has followed closely. While these medications are important for treating many disorders, we must do more to ensure that medical standards and best practices are followed. The Government Accountability Office has previously reported that nearly one in three states identified the overuse of psychotropic drugs in their foster care populations as one of the most pressing issues facing the child welfare system nationwide. Children under state care are particularly vulnerable to these types of disorders and by definition, are Medicaid beneficiaries. In fact, according to numerous studies, foster children are prescribed psychotropic medications at least three to seven times the rate of other children on Medicaid. In some cases, children younger than one year old have been prescribed powerful dosages of psychotropic drugs.

"In December, my subcommittee held a hearing to further examine the GAO report and the potentially dangerous and improper prescribing of these mind-altering drugs for America's foster children. 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. This issue is undoubtedly one of deep 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. I am committed to fixing these problems so we can again be confident in the care our foster children receive from Medicaid. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today what the federal government can do to better monitor psychotropic drug use by children, including those in the foster care system.

"At the hearing in December, 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 – from prescription drug abuse by Medicare recipients to overprescribing our foster children in Medicaid."