Drug Testing Welfare by Angenita Williams

stock photo : A doctor holding a urine sample

There’s no doubt that women make up the demographic that most receives Temporary Assistance for Needy Families – TANF. This past week in Indiana, a law passed through the state House of Representatives, and now awaits a vote in the state Senate. Of course, the Republican side sees this as a necessity. However, the common sense side knows this will cost more and stop nothing. It also targets poor women.

First off, there is a test the applicant has to take. This test determines whether or not the applicant will be selected for random drug tests. This sounds a lot like the literacy tests given from the 1890’s to 1965 that were used to keep minorities from voting.

Second, we’re not talking a boatload of money; $229 a month for one child, $288 a month for two. I mean, really. That’s just what I spend on gas per month.

This law was passed in Florida, and it was struck down as unconstitutional after four months of existence. In fact, only 2.6 percent of the state’s cash assistance applicants failed the drug test, or 108 of 4,086, according to the New York Times. The most common reason was marijuana. The testing actually cost the state an estimated $45,780 more than if the state just issued the benefits. (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/18/us/no-savings-found-in-florida-welfare-drug-tests.html?_r=0)

In Virginia, it was determined that the drug tests would cost the state $1.5 million to administer the tests and save only $229,000 in benefits stripped from recipients who tested positive. (www.thinkprogress.org) The measure was killed in the Senate.

Now, why is this on the drawing board for Indiana?

First, Florida proves there is no cost savings. Why spend thousands to “save” hundreds? Why target the poor? Is it automatically assumed that poor people do the most drugs?

Second, hardcore drug users know how to cheat the system. Meth, crack, and cocaine leave the system within days. Marijuana stays in the system longer depending on how much fat you have, so it would be detected the most. Prescription drug abuse is hard to prove with a prescription, and Medicaid will pay for those. So much for taxpayer money not going towards drug abuse. And, what about alcohol? It leaves the system at a rate of an ounce per hour. Plus, alcohol is found in many household products such as cold medicine and mouthwash.

This bill looks just like another kick to the downtrodden or those who fell down on their luck. And the legislature wants to take away civil liberties and rights for $229 a month? How does that even begin to balance out?

I feel this bill is a waste of my taxpayer money. Can I get a refund? Better yet, let’s test the proposer of this bill. He had to be on something to even dream it up.

I understand the theory, but the approach is wrong. You want to stop the fraud of the system. Drug testing isn’t going to stop fraud. Nothing is going to completely stop fraud. The more roadblocks you build, the more creative fraudsters get. And this law is designed to keep people from applying, no matter how bad they need it. It’s a shame, really.


1 comment so far

  1. Harrison L. Page on

    You are oh so right. Like I have said before. Follow the money!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: