Drug Testing for Welfare Repicents Not Accepted by All Groups


The Indiana House recently voted to require welfare recipients to face drug testing. This year‘s bill would not automatically cut off benefits to those who flunk; instead, they‘d have to enter a treatment program in order to stay on the rolls.

Flunking two tests in a four-month period would trigger a three-month suspension of benefits. All welfare recipients would answer a questionnaire assessing whether they’re predisposed toward substance abuse. Those marked as at-risk, or those who have faced drug charges in the past, would be subject to random drug tests.

The estimated price for the testing is $1.2 million and one Hoosier organization believes a proposal to require screening and drug-testing of applicants and recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families isn’t worth the cost.

David Sklar, the director of government affairs for the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council, says he understands the idea of drug-testing people on assistance is popular – but because of a lack of treatment options it’s setting people up to fail.

“If a bill were written to provide state-level funding for these people who are identified to access a real drug treatment program that’s going to set them up for success, we would be the first people, we would be the first group to stand up and support that legislation,” said Sklar.

The bill was heard in a Senate committee yesterday.