Drug Testing Welfare Recipients Shows One Group Was Right — the Welfare Recipients

Yes sir, I WILL need you to pee in the cup.

What do you do when the facts don’t support your actions, which were based on extremist rhetoric and false notions? If you’re Gov. Rick Scott (GOP/Tea – Fla.) you simply change the mission.

The results are in, and drug testing of welfare recipients as a means to deny them assistance costs more than it saves and fails to shrink the welfare rolls. On the plus side, it shows that drug use is lower among welfare recipients than in the general population.

The idea that people on public assistance are lazy, fatcat, dishonest, drug using cheaters of the system who eat steak and drive Cadillacs is so deeply held on the right that it can’t be shaken — no matter how much the facts pee all over it.

The facts have Gov. Scott and the Florida legislators who introduced the bill — which is being challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) even as it is under consideration in 25 other states — pivoting. They say their idea wasn’t so much to save taxpayer dollars, which is precisely what they claimed at the time, but to cut illegal drug use and…um…give me a second here…what sounds good? Something about children? Maybe?

“It’s not about money, it’s about the drug issue,” said Rep. Jimmie Smith, R-Lecanto, who sponsored the legislation. “It’s about using every tool we have in the toolbox to fight drugs.”

Jackie Schutz, a spokeswoman for the governor’s office, said the governor agreed: The drug welfare law is about protecting children and getting parents back to work.

So along with saving taxpayers money, fighting drugs, protecting children, and getting parents back to work, that brings the total number of things the new law isn’t accomplishing to four.

If those who answer that the drug-using welfare recipients probably self-selected out of the testing were right, there would be a drop in the number of applications for assistance after the law went into effect. There was none.

The law stated that anyone applying for public benefits must first pee in a cup to show they are not taking illegal drugs. The applicant was required to pay for the $35 test up front, and if they were found “innocent,” they could apply to the government to be reimbursed. Eventually.

A little possibly relevant background: Before Scott was elected, he was CEO of Columbia HCA, which was found guilty of the largest Medicaid fraud scheme in the country’s history. Scott cut a deal to be allowed to resign rather than face criminal prosecution and went on to found Solantic Primary Care Centers, which just happen to provide drug testing. After he became governor, Scott’s wife took over as head of Solantic (on paper anyway), and after Scott advocated for the testing law and a stink was made, she too stepped down. The couple claims to have sold all their interests in the business.

The law was a sweet deal for clinics like Solantic that offer drug tests. Or it was, until the ACLU challenged it as a violation of the 4th Amendment right to be free of unreasonable searches by the government. The judge hearing the initial case put a stop to the practice after only a few months, and the matter is now under appeal.

Still, in the short time the law was in effect, interesting numbers emerged.

Of the 4,086 applicants who scheduled drug tests while the law was enforced, 108 people, or 2.6 percent, failed, most often testing positive for marijuana. About 40 people scheduled tests but canceled them, according to the Department of Children and Families, which oversees Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, known as the TANF program.

The numbers, confirming previous estimates, show that taxpayers spent $118,140 to reimburse people for drug test costs, at an average of $35 per screening.

The state’s net loss? $45,780.

So 2.6 percent of the applicants failed, meaning they were using illicit drugs. By comparison, 8.13 percent of all Floridians over the age of 12 would have failed that same test.

The net loss quoted is only for the dollar reimbursement for drug tests. It doesn’t count the cost of additional state staffing and hours to administer the program and review the 97. 4 percent of applicants who passed. It also doesn’t include the voluminous cost of defending the law in court as it continues to be appealed.

Florida’s neighbors to the north, Georgia, just passed their own version of the drug testing for welfare recipients law, and 24 more states are considering it, which marks it as a probable ALEC piece of model legislation.

The idea that people on public assistance are lazy, fatcat, dishonest, drug using cheaters of the system who eat steak and drive Cadillacs is so deeply held on the right that it can’t be shaken — no matter how much the facts pee all over it.

One comment

  • dimitri ayoub
    September 19, 2014 - 6:50 am | Permalink

    So they check the urine of penniless SOLES in Kentucky and Missouri. First of all, I wouldn’t even walk threw those states. Ther ignorance is only surpassed by there overall poverty and LACK of intellect. So people want to test EVERY ONE who receives aid from the government for drugs. First of all FORGET it. It will never HAPPEN. Why? Fortunately most of the other states are not as ignorant as the two states in question.
    I agree with testing people who have a drug convection,or a drug history. To just TEST every one is insane never mind illegal, ever hear the term PROBABLE CAUSE. A term Im sure people in the two states have no concept OFF. I stated that before we start testing these unfortunate people we should test a list of PEOPLE that is much LONGER. Drs, police, firefighters,priests, airline pilots,congress people the list is end less. Most of these people are payed by taxpayer dollars and to the tune of a hell of a lot MORE. Im not talking about testing the doctor AFTER he cuts off the wrong LEG or AFTER the pilot puts the PLANE in the DRINK or AFTER the priest repeatedly rapes your KID. I could go on and on. I will use this story that was in the NEWS today as a example. 90 MILLION this insect screwed you out OF 90 MILLION! Thats equivalent to HALF the people in Vermont, Wyoming or DC. collecting 600 a month because they make less than 7000 dollars a year and have two KIDS. This BUM (the dr) is JUST ONE piece of garbage, the CANS full of greedy respected people who we think are unapproachable in regards to honor and trustworthiness. GIVE ME a F’n BREAK. These are the PEOPLE you should take your ANGER out on NOT the HELPLESS. I am PRE-COMPUTER human. I dont have to CLICK on a web sight for facts. I learnt things “The Old Fashion Way”, I got down in the DIRT and SAW things first HAND (I wouldn’t suggests you do this UNLESS you MUST, because it takes a MIRACLE to come BACK from the DEAD) . The one thing I understood at a very young age (12) is that very FEW individuals will RESIST bettering THEMSELVES if at ALL possible. I remember BEFORE they built that 20 story elderly housing building in WOLLASTON. Do you know how WE treated the many GOOD people who where at the end of there lives and who threw NO fault of there own (except ‘uncontrollable’ events) couldn’t keep up with a volatile economy? Real easy question to ANSWER. We let them ROT in DIRTY, COLD rooms all across this COUNTRY. Society had a most peculiar way of dealing with the elderly. People who found themselves Hungry and SICK in a rented room the size of a BIG closet. I remember going to work with my father in the South End of Boston just to help him (father) out.(you knew Sammy Jeff) My father always had time to help these poor people out, besides fixing there electric switch. He tried to fix there life in some small WAY. Twice we went into these rooms of despair only to find that the elderly person had expired without so much as a KIND word. It made me physically SICK to see this. Little did I know (at the time) these were the LUCKY ones. A short time later I would find myself with the SKY for a ROOF on the streets of this same City (By MY choice) . Ther I would witness the streets littered with the elderly, mentally ill and Vietnam veterans. All left out neatly to DIE in the filthy streets. . Thankfully and to this Country’s credit we took these issues on (to a certain extent) and NOT because WE had BIG harts. We did it BECAUSE any society that lets HELPLESS people die like DOGS will ultimately go to the DOGS . And you can quote me on that because I just coined the phrase. Dont pick on the HELPLESS pick ON the PEOPLE Who HELP THEMSELVES to the GOODS and SERVICES that would keep a SMALL COUNTRY operating. Thanks JEFF. One more thing Jeff. I dont want to come off like someone who’s SEEN everything, its JUST that Iv seen ENOUGH. It used to be a lot worse BEFORE I hit the streets however I did not WITNESS it. THANK GOD!!!!! . .

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