State pushing drugs on too many kids — (KXAN)

Original article no longer available

KXAN

There are new accusations that the state may be pushing too many mind-altering drugs on too many kids.

At issue is the health of thousands of children in the state’s care and millions of your tax dollars.

For years, 16-year-old Michael Holland has been in and out of state custody. His parents blaming his troubles on the anti-depressants and psychotropic drugs he was being told to take.

He was very suicidal. He was much threat to society. He was a danger to us, anybody that’s out there,” Mother Lori Holland said.

Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn says Holland’s case illustrates the danger thousands of kids in the state’s foster care system face from overmedication. She’s demanding the state study how widespread the problem may be.

“I can’t imagine prescribing mind altering drugs for a three-year-old baby,” Strayhorn said.

Strayhorn says those drugs cost taxpayers about $4 million a year to cover 26,000 foster kids in Medicaid.

“I am also concerned with potential Medicaid and prescription drug fraud,” Strayhorn said.

State health officials say they’re already studying prescription drug abuse in the Medicaid program. So far they’ve found anti-depressants, stimulants and anti-psychotics may have been given inappropriately 10 to more than 50 percent of the time.

“It’s important that we get an understanding of exactly what the problem is, how extensive the problem is and then go about making some recommendations or changes to policy,” Jennifer Harris with the Health and Human Services Commission said.

For Michael Holland, the biggest changes came when he was taken off mind-altering medications.

“Michael’s a junior in high school, he plays on the baseball team. Still has his ups and downs. But’s he’s doing better than I ever thought he would do,” father Wesley Holland said.

Strayhorn says she wants a year’s worth of prescription claims data from the Health and Human Services Commission for her study.

An HHSC spokeswoman says the agency will work with the comptroller, but doubts it will reveal much beyond what is already under scrutiny.