The state of Florida recently headed up a movement that was widespread among the United States highlighting a popular issue, drug testing welfare applicants. Florida proposed that the recipients pay for a drug test to continue to receive benefits and if found positive for drug use the recipient will become ineligible for a year. This movement has been a very politically controversial topic but yet is a hot topic in taxpayer’s minds. Some argue that it is not right to force someone to a drug test or to pay for one when those having to do so are simply asking for public assistance in times of need. Some have even argued it is unconstitutional. However, drug testing recipients would eliminate the people legitimately in need from the people simply using the system to support their bad habits and encourage more people to become productive contributors to society. Two of the government assistance programs that have been repeatedly abused are TANF and MEDICAID.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families [TANF] gives a like cash amount of money to single parent families and/or unemployed two parent families. The program was originally called Assistance for Dependent Children and was designed to make it easier for women to be stay at home parents. The average recipient of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Family’s program in Florida receives $253 a month for up to five months. With the new law being in place these applicants are now being required to cover the cost of a drug test upon approval of the application. If the drug test comes back positive the applicant is disqualified from receiving the cash benefit for up to one year pending seeking out drug rehabilitation. If the drug test comes back negative the cost of the test is reimbursed and the assistance is provided. According to the state of Florida’s TANF applicants drug test results, from July 2011 to October 2011, 7,030 applicants passed, 32 applicants failed and 1,597 applicants did not provide results” (Sulzberger, par 22). 18 percent of the applicants either didn’t get drug tested or failed, so that’s $412,137 of government money saved a month. That’s a large sum of money to be saved in a four month time span, imagine the amount of money that could be saved a year.
Another government assistance program known as Medicaid has been linked to several drug dealing operations. A dealer illegally distributes illegal drugs for profit, so the income received from doing so isn’t reported and therefore shows them at the zero to low income level. “In 2014, individuals under age 65 (including parents and adults without dependent children) with incomes below 133% of the Federal Poverty Level ($14,500 for an individual in 2011) will become eligible for Medicaid in every state” (“Non-Disabled Adults”). Currently this only applies to adults with dependent children, adults with disabilities and adults aged 65 or older. Medicaid essentially provides cost free medical and cost free prescriptions. Anyone familiar with the drug trade knows that narcotics (prescription drugs) are a huge part of that market. It will be easy for a drug dealer to get their hands on narcotics with Medicaid and ultimately cost free as long as they can act in pain and pull it off in the eyes of a doctor. Once prescribed medications by a doctor its simple and thanks to Medicaid cost free. Drug testing these individuals would eliminate the criminally driven people from using the system to continue in their illegal activities and sales
Arthenia Joyner, a democratic leader in the Florida state senate stated that, ''There are millions of people seeking aid from the state for the first time because they have lost their jobs and they still have children to feed and bills to pay, these people now are having to suffer the indignity of having to undergo a drug test.” This may be true that these “people seeking aid” are coming for the first time to get help but a drug test for