Antipsychotic Medication Standards: Your Opportunity to Influence National Policy (Deadline: March 19)

psychdrug photo FINAL

Our first post for the more than 240 people who attended the 2012 Because Minds Matter conference introduced our blog.  If you missed that introduction, you can see it here. Today’s post jumps right in.

Whether or not you attended the 2012  Because Minds Matter conference, you now have a one-time opportunity to play a role in setting national standards for use of antipsychotic medications (“APs”) for children and adolescents.  The APs are the most expensive, probably the most powerful, and certainly the most controversial and problematic of the psychotropic medications prescribed for children.

The NCQA and the importance of your comments

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) has published proposed measures for “Safe and Judicious Antipsychotic Use in Children and Adolescents.”  The last day for comments is March 19.

The NCQA is a Washington, D.C.-based organization.  Its directors are executives of the most powerful components of the national health care establishment.  NCQA measures of quality are a primary yardstick used to evaluate, authorize, and finance America’s health care programs.

The proposed antipsychotic measures will be part of HEDIS (Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set), a tool used by more than 90 percent of America’s health plans, including Medicaid and Medicare, to measure quality.  HEDIS measures already in use include diabetes care, antidepressant medication, and childhood and adult weight/BMI assessment.  Data for HEDIS is gathered from Medicaid, Medicare, and commercial health plans covering 136 million people–43 percent of the U.S. population.  Performance on each measure is used in the State of Health Care Quality Report published annually by NCQA.

For antipsychotics, NCQA is proposing six measures.  Two address “Appropriateness/Overuse of Medications in Youth,” and four measure “Monitoring and Management of Youth on Antipsychotics.”  NCQA’s request for comments includes an overview, a section on the importance for children’s health, financial implications, cost effectiveness, and a summary of existing guidelines from professional organizations.  The Overview for each proposed measure is extensively annotated with references to the psychopharmacology, pediatric, and psychiatric literature.

The NCQA is inviting comment on its draft measures of quality in administering AP drugs “safely” and “judiciously.”  You have until March 19 to submit personal or organizational comments of approval, partial approval, or disagreement.  To participate in establishing “antipsychotic” drug standards, go here and follow the instructions to see the proposed standards and to provide your recommendations.  NCQA accepts comments only via its website, not by mail or e-mail, so you will need to follow the website’s instructions step by step.

Our recommendations

We of course have evaluated the NCQA proposals concerning “antipsychotic” medications, and we will be sending in our recommendations.  In this blog’s previous post, available herewe share those recommendations with you. For more information, contact us here.

Bill Grimm – Anna Johnson – Edward Opton
PsychDrugs Action Campaign
National Center for Youth Law



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