Welfare & Drug Testing Welfare Applicants
What is welfare?
Welfare consists of seven primary means-tested programs:
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF)
- Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program
- Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps
- Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
When you are talking about welfare in the United States, whether or not you are talking about cutting welfare, these are the specific programs you are talking about.
Read more at Know the Facts Before Spouting off About Welfare
Substance abuse issues have long been part of public assistance policy discussions. States have proposed drug testing of applicants and recipients of public welfare benefits since federal welfare reform in 1996. The federal rules permit drug testing as part of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant. In recent years, nearly all states have proposed some form of drug testing or screening for applicants. In 2009, over 20 states proposed legislation that would require drug testing as a condition of eligibility for public assistance programs. In 2010 at least 12 states had similar proposals. None of these proposals became law because most of the legislation was focused on “suspicion-less” or “random” drug testing, which is at odds with a 2003 Michigan Court of Appeals case. Marchwinski v. Howard ruled that subjecting every welfare applicant in Michigan to a drug test without reason to believe that drugs were being used, was unconstitutional.
Read more at National Council of State Legislators.
What 7 States Discovered After Spending More Than $1 Million Drug Testing Welfare Recipients
Proponents of these bills claim they will save money by getting drug users off the dole and thus reduce spending on benefits. But states that are looking at bills of their own may want to consider the fact that the drug testing programs that are already up and running haven’t seen such results.
Read more at Think Progress.
Estimated Costs of Drug Testing Welfare Applicants – Proposals
(Source: State fiscal notes and bill summaries, State legislature websites)
|Alabama||2011||Cost unknown. Estimate would include cost to administer drug screening, give notice to applicants, and oversee operation and training. Persons being screened pay for the drug screening. If test negative, the department will reimburse the individual for the cost of the screening by increasing the amount of TANF benefits received by the amount paid for the drug screening.|
|Arizona||2008||$3.4 million. Estimate includes just the initial test for applicants and recipients of TANF and General Assistance.|
|Florida||2011||Cost unknown. A pilot run between 1999 and 2001 was reported to cost $2.7 million. The bill that has now been passed would require applicants to pay the cost of the drug test, which will be reimbursed if the applicant tests negative.|
|Idaho||2010||$1,324,725 for all, $263,681 for 13% of participants. Estimates include testing, system programming, and treatment by a contractor.|
|Indiana||2011||$173,000. Estimate only includes the price of the test itself.|
|Louisiana||2011||$92,487. Estimate includes drug testing of 20% of recipients and treatment for 2% of those tested.|
|Maryland||2011||$2.2 million. Estimate includes cost for additional TANF staff to monitor applications and eligibility and increased contract costs for staff and supplies to do the testing.|
|Missouri||2011||Up to $1,904,632 (FY 12); Up to $2,204,202 (FY 13). Estimates include costs of increased staffing needs, including for increased administrative hearings, drug treatment, changes to electronic applications, and hiring contractors to administer the drug tests.|
|New York||2011||$20 million. Estimate only includes the price of the test itself for all applicants and recipients.|
|Oklahoma||2011||$2,161,179. Estimate assumes that 10% of the TANF adult population would be randomly tested, all applicants would be tested, and the cost to administer a drug test is $49.|
|Tennessee||2007||No cost. Estimate assumes that federal law prohibits drug testing as a condition of eligibility for TANF, as it does in Medicaid/Medicare and SNAP.|
|West Virginia||2011||$148,580. Estimate assumes that all applicants and 20% of recipients would be tested.|
 Riddle, Rachel. (2011). “Fiscal Notes for SB496.” (http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/acas/ACTIONFiscalNotesFrame.asp?OID=73995&LABEL=SB496)
 Smith, Art. (2008). “Fiscal Analysis: HB 2678.” (http://www.azleg.gov/legtext/48leg/2r/fiscal/hb2678.doc.htm)
 The Florida Senate. (2011). “Bill Analysis and Fiscal Impact Statement: CS/SB 556: Drug Screening/Beneficiaries/Temporary Assistance.” (http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2011/0556/Analyses/9/pWb5TDaaOHN/mJs9Yvi9hjGS8=%7C7/Public/Bills/0500-0599/0556/Analysis/2011s0556.pre.bc.PDF)
 Idaho Department of Health & Welfare. (2011). “Drug Testing Public Assistance Program Participants.” (http://www.idahoreporter.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/DHW-report.pdf)
 Indiana Legislative Services Agency. (2011). “Fiscal Impact Statement: HB 1452.” (http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2011/PDF/FISCAL/HB1452.002.pdf)
 Louisiana Legislative Fiscal Office. (2011). “Fiscal Note: Drug Testing 20% of FITAP Adult Recipients.” (http://www.legis.state.la.us/billdata/streamdocument.asp?did=748953)
 Maryland Department of Legislative Services. (2011). “Fiscal and Policy Note: House Bill 585.” (http://mlis.state.md.us/2011rs/fnotes/bil_0005/hb0585.pdf)
 Missouri Committee on Legislative Research Oversight Division. (2011). “Fiscal Note: SB 7.” (http://www.moga.mo.gov/oversight/OVER11/fispdf/0287-01N.ORG.PDF)
 New York State Assembly. (2011). “Bill A4474 Memo.” (http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?default_fld=&bn=A04474&term=2011&Memo=Y)
 Roberts, Dustin. (2011). “HB 1067 Bill Summary.” (http://webserver1.lsb.state.ok.us/cf/2011-12%20SUPPORT%20DOCUMENTS/BILLSUM/House/HB1067%20INT%20BILLSUM.DOC)
 White, James. (2007). “Fiscal Note: SB 102-HB 588.”
 Lewis, Michael J. (2011). “Fiscal Note Summary: HB3079.” (http://www.legis.state.wv.us/Fiscalnotes/FN(2)/fnsubmit_recordview1.cfm?RecordID=20055204)