INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Some Indiana welfare recipients would
face drug testing under a bill approved Wednesday by a state House
would require all applicants for the Temporary Assistance for Needy
Families program to complete a written screening test for possible drug
abuse problems. Those identified as possible drug abusers would need to
undergo a drug test, and anyone failing would have to take part in a
treatment program and pass later drug tests to continue receiving benefit
family and children committee voted 9-4 along party lines to send the
proposal to the full Republican-controlled House.
McMillin, R-Brookville, said his proposal is aimed at helping those with
drug abuse problems and improving the home environment for children. The
results of the drug test couldn't be used for a criminal investigation,
although child welfare authorities would be notified, he said.
"This isn't a
gotcha bill," McMillin said. "This isn't punitive, this isn't trying to
hurt people. We're trying to help people."
the committee and some others questioned whether enough affordable drug
treatment programs were available.
abusers need intensive detoxification programs that can have long-term
costs of perhaps $10,000, with free programs often much less effective,
said Mark Fairchild, executive director of the National Association of
Social Workers' Indiana chapter.
them a list of options that are available will not work," Fairchild said.
"Those high-intensity options that are needed are in very short supply
across Indiana — private pay, Medicaid or otherwise. Simply getting
admitted into those can take well in excess of 30 days."
proposed a welfare drug testing plan last year that stalled in the Senate
after concerns were raised about the possible $1 million cost for the
state's Family and Social Services Administration to start the program.
That proposal would have required testing of recipients for whom agency
officials had reasonable suspicion of drug use and random testing for
a major change this year is that those failing drug tests could still
receive benefit payments if they entered a treatment program and passed
"If they don't
get clean, then they lose their benefits," he said.
benefit payment from Indiana's TANF program for a family of four is $346 a
month, according to state figures.
nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency estimates it would cost about $1.1
million to start the testing program, although McMillin said he believed
much of that would go for initial expenses and be less in later years.
McMillin said federal laws won't allow drug testing for those receiving
food stamps and Medicaid.
Democrats last year successfully pushed to add to the bill a provision
requiring legislators to submit to drug tests before receiving perks like
parking spots and laptops, arguing that Indiana's poor should not be the
lone targets of drug testing.