Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Welfare drug-testing yields 2% positive results

Since Florida began testing welfare applicants for drugs in July, about 2% have tested positive, preliminary data shows.

Ninety-six percent proved to be drug free -- leaving the state on the hook to reimburse the cost of their tests.

The law, which took effect July 1, requires applicants to pay for their own drug tests. Those who test drug-free are reimbursed by the state, and those who fail cannot receive benefits for a year.

At least 1,000 welfare applicants took the drug tests through mid-August, according to the Department of Children and Families, which expects at least 1,500 applicants to take the tests monthly.

Cost of the tests averages about $30. Assuming that 1,000 to 1,500 applicants take the test every month, the state will owe about $28,800 to $43,200 monthly in reimbursements to those who test drug-free.

That compares with roughly $32,200 to $48,200 the state may save on one month's worth of rejected applicants.

More than once, Gov. Rick Scott has said publicly that people on welfare use drugs at a higher rate than the general population. The 2% test fail rate, however, does not bear that out.

According to the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, performed by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, 8.7% of the population nationally over age 12 uses illicit drugs.

Read the Tampa Tribune report here. And see previous post here.


At 12:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why would someone who KNOWS they will fail a drug test, take the drug test if it means they won't be able to get welfare for one year?

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