Rapid growth of antipsychotic prescriptions for children who are publicly insured has ceased, but concerns remain
Publication Date: 06/01/2016
The rapid growth of antipsychotic medication use among publicly insured children in the early and mid-2000s spurred new state efforts to monitor and improve prescription behavior. A starting point for many oversight initiatives was the foster care system, where most of the children are insured publicly through Medicaid. To understand the context and the effects of these initiatives, we analyzed patterns and trends in antipsychotic treatment of Medicaid-insured children in foster care and those in Medicaid but not in foster care. We found that the trend of rapidly increasing use of antipsychotics appears to have ceased since 2008. Children in foster care treated with antipsychotic medications are now more likely than other Medicaid-insured children to receive psychosocial interventions and metabolic monitoring for the side effects of the medications. However, challenges persist in increasing safety monitoring and access to psychosocial treatment. Development of specialized managed care plans for children in foster care represents a promising policy opportunity. New national quality measures for safe and judicious antipsychotic medication use are also now available to guide improvement. Oversight policies developed for foster care appear to have potential for adaptation to the broader population of Medicaid-covered children.