Why We Shouldn’t Drug Test Poor People

Of all the ways to help people with drug problems, threatening their Medicaid eligibility is among the worst options.

Comments: 233

  1. People's health is directly affected by the packaging and food companies that sell more preservatives than food. It is one thing to lose one's health, it is another to lose one's dignity as well.
    The GOP is a party devoid of compassion and humanity "in gold they trust". Because of their lack of intelligence and ability to problem solve they resort to backward measures which are easy to dictate. I hope they dissolve into nothingness in the near future .They have overstayed their welcome.
    It is time to elect a new leadership that inspires even the most downtrodden to want to change on their own, something I've seen and done. I know it works. Anyone who thinks for a second that they're going to dictate to me how I should live or behave would be in for a rude awakening, if they tried to impose their will on me. The measures Mr. Walker and his likes are trying to impose would lead straight to a massive revolution in the US. He happened to be one of the dullest and mediocre politician have ever come across.

  2. Screening for drug use will apparently not prevent people from getting Medicaid, but require them to undergo treatment if they test positive. I'm struggling to see the harm in this.

    As to stimatizing them, all kinds of people undergo routine drug testing for different reasons, such as employment.

  3. First of all, if you think that positive drug tests will only result in those people getting the treatment they need (which depending upon their drug usage may be none at all), you need to think again. That's not why Republicans want to do this. And furthermore, why have we allowed 'routine drug testing' to become routine for employment? Theft is a huge problem in the workplace---perhaps we should allow potential employers to search our home for stolen goods before we are employed? How about a peek at your full medical history or your genetic predispositions? After all without that, businesses might lose money! This is about stigmatizing the poor and legitimizing our inequitable economic system and nothing else.

  4. I know someone who was on BadgerCare in Wisconsin. He was in his 20s so all he got from BadgerCare was a flu shot. He would have passed on the flu shot if there were any extra paperwork or a drug test. But we want as many people as possible to get flu shots so they don't get everyone else sick right?

    "Healthy" people in their 50s and 60s on Medicaid often get statins and cancer screening in addition to flu shots. The statins and cancer screening are supposed to reduce future health care costs, Medicare etc. and save taxpayer funds.

  5. The NHS can cut benefits to not only drug addict but alcoholics and those who are obese (imagine that in the U.S) because they say “long-term conditions such as drug addiction and alcohol dependence, or obesity, can seriously affect people’s chances of taking up and remaining in rewarding employment”.
    The U.K, with its national health care system, tries to treat dependency as a personal and societal problem; wants to push people to get treatment that they provide and get them back to work for the good of the general welfare. We need to do the same.

  6. That would require a preventive maintenance healthcare system rather than the push them off a cliff system we have here.

  7. The [UK] NHS is now part of a Tory legacy that gave them Grenfell Tower and midnight exodus from multiple unsafe buildings. Maybe the residents of the Tower should have been drug-tested?

  8. Drug testing the poor receiving aid appears an integral part of the political messaging on the right - and like most of this messaging, it has little connection with reality.

    As the author points out, this low income population consistently tests as having a much lower usage of illegal substances that the general population - for obvious reasons, given that recreational drugs are typically quite expensive in comparison to alcohol, and this population is poor - and yet the testing requirements continue to spread throughout Red America.

    These policies are ultimately intended to stigmatize poverty and those receiving governments assistance, in as effort to shield the 'wealth creators' who fund Republican messaging efforts from paying anything close to their fair share of taxes.

    Given the fundamentally dishonest economic shell game that is at the core of contemporary conservative politics, as noted most recently by David Brooks in a recent column in this paper, I argue that it would much more appropriate to drug test wealthy contributors to the Republican Party, and the dupes who fall for this messaging - inasmuch these groups are much more likely to be able to afford expensive recreational drugs, and that one probably needs to be high on something to either have the stomach to gut your own country for purely financial reasons or to buy into this ludicrous messaging.

  9. Or, more likely, the thought that a positive drug test could eliminate one's vital welfare benefits might make screened recipients less likely to use drugs. I think this is a more likely reason, and certainly worth the cost of screening.

    Plus, how is it a bad thing for needing government assistance to be shameful? I certainly think it is - it demonstrates that the recipient has objectively failed to provide for themselves.

  10. You "think," QED? Have any evidence besides your prejudices toward the poor? Your hunch is not dispositive of anything, and reality doesn't favor your opinion, but I hope you are adequately shamed for using all the government benefits you take advantage of at tax time!

  11. I donate regularly to our local Food Bank..our provincial govt...hard right wing..had not increased welfare rates in a decade...and Vancouver is so called world class expensive to live. I have been critized by people saying..those people spend their money on cigarettes and beer..and by extension..drugs. My answer is always: who am I to judge someone else.

  12. A thought: drug testing for ALL who impact the federal treasury - from home mortgage deductions, carried interest loopholes and corporate subsidies to Medicaid. I imagine the notion of drug testing would be quickly dumped.

  13. Agreed. If college taught me anything, it's that wealthy people do drugs just as much as the poor.

  14. In order to be hired for a new job most people have to undergo a drug test. Why then is it considered unreasonable for applicants for Medicaid to be required to have the same treatment?

  15. I don't think that it's reasonable to have to take a drug test for employment & have not, in fact, ever done so. What is the proof that it helps? Yet businesses keep doing it. Luckily, there are many organizations that understand that drug testing is costly and not useful, and I work for one of them. And no, I've never used illicit drugs.

  16. One can choose to forego a drug test for a job and try to find a potential employer who doesn't require testing.

    One cannot choose to forego Medicaid if one is otherwise eligible and in need.

  17. Dear Mr. Adams:

    Do you know that the single largest group of Medicaid recipients are nursing home residents?

    How would you propose to drug test them?

    I evaluate children as young as 7 years old for various mental health conditions. Most of them receive Medicaid. Who would you drug test in this instance? The parents, the children, the school teachers (maybe the teachers are supplying them with drugs?)

    In an age of fake news, people develop very strange beliefs.

    Do you know, by the way, that the rate of illegal drug use among Medicaid recipients is far lower than that of the general population?

    Following your logic, we might drug test all those Republican politicians, like Scott Walker, who have been "hired" by Charles Koch. Come to think of it, perhaps we might ask every politician who supported this health care boondoggle to undergo, not just a drug test, but a psych eval.

    I'm willing to step up and do my part. Send them to me and I'll conduct an evaluation.

    Happy to help out!


  18. I think people who take government assistance should be stigmatized, after all they are taking other people's money. The stigma involved is one reason people should want to work harder not to need hand outs. Imagine if everyone who was government disability had to wear a sign stating this. The public would realize how much waste is in the system as they see healthy appearing people not working, at other taxpayer's expense. Before the start of the "great welfare society and social safety net" people who really needed help received charity but they had to ask for it which is a very humbling experience and people would do all they could not to because of the stigma associated with the experience. Today with our "entitlement culture" there is no stigma associated with taking other people's money. In fact it is encouraged under the guise of "income redistribution" I know this may sound mean or cruel but I consider this "tough-love", the message we should be sending is "You need to work for what you get, nothing is free." But the way our government works currently it seems that when a person receives money from the government they are not taking another person's money because our government is so big. And the people running our government have NO INCENTIVE to deny anyone any benefit because with more handouts and more money comes more power and job security. Great System.

  19. You neglect to realize it is big business, and government that manipulate our economy, creating boom and bust cycles that leave millions destitute. Moral responsibility begins with those who break the system and prosper by it.

  20. I await your catalogue of job-opportunities accompanied by the list of qualifications required for each class of job. And then tell us which jobs are available in our inner cities for educationally-deprived young men, and which jobs are available in the rust belt for returned vets who can't escape that 1000-yard stare.

  21. How about those getting corporate bailouts, subsidies, tax cuts also be required to submit to drug tests? The level of drug use is the same or higher in this part of the population just not scrutinized or criminalized at the same rate. They also are receiving other people's money. Oh, and corporations are individuals according to Citizens United so let's apply the same rules!

  22. If health care is considered a human right (it is, isn't it?) then the only reason for testing for the presence of drugs or any intoxicant is to confirm a diagnosis of addiction. Wait. This the the US. Health care isn't a human right and addiction isn't a health issue but an individual moral failure. Perhaps what is needed is a dose of morality instead of medical treatment. Can I get an amen?

  23. I don't consider health care a human right. Are you willing to pay for mine?

  24. I think people have a right to basic healthcare. The problem is determining what is adequate. When a person benefits without any cost to them they want the most possible care. And who in government is to deny this, government officials are rarely physicians. If a person with end stage cancer wants to spend $100,000 to get possibly 1-2 months of additional life let them feel free to do so. Otherwise it might be better to spend the money on basic healthcare for children. No resources are unlimited, and who should decide? The free market is the best way to distribute limited resources, people pay for what they value. When someone else pays the entire system is distorted. This is why healthcare and education both cost so much.

  25. I agree. We shouldn't also force them to work.
    But most importantly we should also stop using taxpayer dollars to support them.

  26. Where did the concept of personal responsibility for one's actions and acceptance of the consequences disappear to?

  27. Let me be clear. Personal responsibility is not a stand alone, mutually exclusive concept. One can be responsible and still get sick. One can do all the right things but still have flaws and weaknesses. Conservatives do not own "personal responsibility." I believe in it as much as anyone else but it is not always relevant when it comes to health issues.

    As for taking drugs, it depends on if you believe it is an illness or not. Some people are more susceptible to addiction. In some cases, doctors are to blame for freely and easily prescribing as in the case of opioids. (and sure, pharma companies to for exploiting both doctors and patients).

  28. "Some people are more susceptible to addiction."

    And some people are better able to hide their addiction behind trappings of success and responsibility, or buy their way out of arrests and convictions.

    Its just heartbreaking that, when we finally reach consensus there is an "opioid epidemic' exclusively because we can't hide the damage among the elites and the executives, there are still Republicans who believe the problem is the lazy, stupid, probably black 'welfare families' of the inner city.

    The bias, the racial enmity is plain and it is absolute, even though the evidence suggests the biggest problems are at the top.

    Still, the welfare queen and her Cadillac continue to circle Capitol Hill.

  29. Applying for Medicaid isn't the same as applying for a job, and people shouldn't have to beg for medical care and be shamed for it.

    This is a thinly disguised effort to deny healthcare to those in need. Medicaid users are often not in a position to support or oppose government policies by organizing themselves to be heard. As such, they can be abused by politicians without fear of retribution. The same is true for voter ID laws.
    This is another power game, pure and simple.

  30. I am beginning to get the feeling that republican politicians are not only generally misinformed, and beholding to the money class but are genuinely bad people.

  31. really, just beginning?

  32. You trust the government to spend your money better than you would? It is almost impossible to fairly redistribute income. But simple things like illegal behavior can be a start.

  33. I believe that health care is a right, and that all rights entail responsibility. We all have a responsibility to care for our bodies, and do what we can to optimize our health. That includes eating properly and exercising. It does not include using drugs.

  34. How many people with mental retardation do you know, Michael, who can be successfully taught how to care for their bodies and how to eat properly? How many people with no marketable skills can be "responsible" in your apparent sense of responsibility?

    If some of these people you obviously don't know exist use drugs -- and few with whom I work do -- so what? Life for them is pretty bad all around; folks like you can't make it much worse.

    Think about it.

  35. Do you drink alcohol, coffee, or other stimulants? Smoke? Over-eat?

  36. When a couple marries, its health care costs almost always go down. And before Obamacare, single adults were ineligible for Medicaid in most states. Now, Mr. Walker wants to drug test single adults to qualify for Medicaid.. Why married couples should get valuable health care benefits as compared with single adults is beyond me. I don't much like paying a penalty because I stopped arguing with my ex-wife.. Is my health less important since I became single? And is there a good reason I pay so much to insure your kids?

  37. " While flexibility has at times allowed some states to expand services, others like Arizona, Kentucky and Maine are now attempting to impose conditions, such as time limits or work requirements, that would shrink the program."
    " When this happens, the public becomes less willing to support such programs and people become less willing to use them, even in times of desperate need. All of this makes the program increasingly vulnerable to further cuts and eventual dismemberment."

    god forbid we should shrink any government program and make people more personally responsible for their circumstances.

  38. We are a nation of children, growing and learning. When all children are raised in a level playing field, then you may have the right to judge their level of personal responsibility.

  39. You might want to check the definition of addiction. Most addicts don't want to be what they've become. But kicking a drug habit is extremely difficult - ask anyone trying to quit smoking. Moralizing and putting barriers in the way of treatment is counter productive to the goal of getting addicts off drugs and back into the economic mainstream.

  40. If memory serves Florida used drug testing as a requirement to draw unemployment - despite it being an insurance program -and the results showed they used drugs at a lower rate than the general population. It was also criticized because the Republican (go figure) Governor had toes to the company that was doing the testing.

  41. Florida used drug testing as an eligibility requirement for TANF cash benefits. The results were as you described: the rate of positive tests was lower than the general population. The state scuttled the TANF drug tests after the requirement was challenged in court and found unconstitutional.

  42. Unemployment benefits are not a government handout. The benefits are paid for in advance by employers. To the drug testing to benefits is just a government rip off.

  43. The NY Times is wrong. "...drug testing marks people who rely on the government as inherently suspect." No. Drug testing simply tells them to abide by the law of the land before receiving benefits from the government of that land. Force childless adults to be responsible for themselves? Not if the NY Times has its say. I suggest that the governor of Wisconsin offer free drug treatment and counseling for any potential Medicaid recipient who needs it. Then give them Medicaid when clean.

  44. Which drugs are we talking about? Beer? Nicotine? Prescribed pain killers? Sugar? Drugs that would allow white people to take benefits away from brown people, I suspect.

  45. "Of all the ways to help Americans with drug problems, threatening their Medicaid eligibility is among the worst options."

    Yes, this is true. Obviously the Republicans have no desire to "help" people with drug problems. They simply are looking for any excuse to kick people off of Medicaid. in order to channel more money into tax cuts for the bloated rich.

    Because of the stigma attached to drug addiction, Republicans are hoping that people will accept the notion that addicts should be punished for their affliction by being denied health care.

  46. What naive rock does Walker live under. Drugs, opiates, and pain meds are everywhere - used by every strata of society. Why in the world would he want to create barriers & stigmas to make it harder for those needy people to get help. Unlike what our AG says - drugs are not done by bad people (actually Jeff Sessions said "only bad people smoke marijuana")

    One reason for the exploding problems with pain meds is they relieve the pain so many are experiencing in a hopeless world... people that have allowed drugs to rule their life are not some fun loving partiers - they are our fellow citizens who have fallen into having a drug run & in many cases destroy their life. We can not turn our back on our brothers & sisters - in many cases you or me.

  47. Let's never forget that the "War on Drugs" has nothing to do with curtailing drug use, but rather to channel that use to those drugs which society approves. When underprivileged folks need to medicate against this hard world, they’re called weak, criminal, and addicts, and put in jail. When it’s ad execs, lawyers, or talk radio hosts, they’re given prescriptions, called victims, and given treatment. One thing homelessness and poverty take away is the ‘closed door’ behind which more affluent people can conceal their weaknesses. The 60,000 deaths this year from prescription drugs show us what's behind those doors.

    Let’s call this what it is: an effort to strip the disadvantaged of a further layer of dignity. It’s transparent, to the point, and effective. We need to look in the mirror and understand that in the war on drugs, just as in any other war, Walt Kelly’s lines are apt: “We have met the enemy…”

  48. "the spectacle of calling for drug testing marks people who rely on the government as inherently suspect." Don't suggest this non-sense. I am a college educated professional who works for a large bank. And every employee of the bank was drug tested as a condition of taking the job. It is routine. Rather than being considered an invasion of privacy, it is a reasonable request by an employer to make sure they are not hiring people with a drug problem.

    People on Medicaid or other programs receive these benefits because society has decided to provide the poor with necessities. If it's reasonable for an employer to drug test employees, isn't it just as reasonable for society to ask someone who wants public benefits to make sure they are likewise obeying the law ?

    As the article even concedes, people who are found to use drugs will not lose benefits. Rather, they will "undergo screening, testing and treatment". How horrible !? Isn't this exactly the kind of consideration of drug abuse as a health issue rather than legal violation that liberals have been urging for years ! But now, they do not even want to make sure that people get treatment.

    The counter-argument that Michener offers that "beneficiaries already feel stigmatized" is a small consideration when weighed against getting people the treatment they need.

  49. No it isn't reasonable. The people in Medicaid are by definition poor. Thus drug testing will create a general impression that they are drug users -- somewhat skin to the 'welfare queen' of the Reagan era. Stigmatizing poverty is a longstanding conservative tactic.

  50. I agree with the authors that drug-testing should not be a condition for receiving Medicaid. That said, much of their reasoning is specious at best.

    First, let's dispense with the nonsense that drug testing is costly and stigmatizes people. It's not. Businesses routinely test job applicants for drug use. Such testing is invasive and insulting, but not costly and so long as its applied to everybody, it doesn't stigmatize anyone.

    The authors are obviously focused on the potential for racist generalizations about those who are denied aid because of drug use. That's understandable. Poor minorities, just like poor white people, have enough of a load to carry without adding to their burden. The reality is that the majority of these drug users are not going anywhere in life for a lot of personal choice reasons and for some an equal measure of racial barriers. For them, drug use is a way to escape the boredom of an empty life. So long as they refrain from crime and are civil, let them have their drugs and allow them their benefits. From the cold view of data, its a lot less expensive to society than the cycle of crime and prison we have now.

    Finally, the notion that democracy is jeopardized by drug testing is just laughable. Democracy is jeopardized by uninformed citizens who vote for narrow emotional or ideological dogma or vote for brazenly self interested financial returns. True of republicans favoring trickle down and true of democrats favoring hand outs.

  51. Drug testing may be inexpensive for companies. But for someone on welfare/food stamps/Medicaid paying for that test (and the Republicans always insist they should pay for the test) means choosing which other essential item they must go without that week/month. And as we've seen in Florida, government is frequently in bed with the drug testing companies (Doesn't Gov Scott's wife own the company Florida welfare recipients were forced to use?)

  52. Your reasoning for why we should not implement drug testing is the most elucidating rationale I've ever heard. This actually changed my mind.

  53. Drug testing is an unnecessary waste of resources and is indeed insulting. If single-payer healthcare were to be implemented, the "drug problem" in the U.S. would pretty much vanish. Just like the "homeless problem" would vanish if the homeless were given housing. Utah proved that.

    The U.S.A., thanks to conservatives, utilizes cruelty and the scarcity mentality as social policy.

    Not enough resources to go around! Yet there are six-star generals who have never seen combat receiving egregious salaries and retirement pensions and CEOs who could not possibly in several lifetimes work hard enough to "deserve" their millions and billions in salaries and perks. Proven capital offenders receive millions of dollars of appeals.

    There is a surplus of resources in the U.S.A., just not the moral will to redistribute them humanely. An inexcusable way to manage a so-called civilized nation.

    And that is why I am a lifelong Democrat.

  54. Why does the government think that drug use automatically equates to abuse? The last time I checked, the addiction rate for drugs like marijuana is about 9%, with alcohol clocking in at 15%. I personally know a lot more people with drinking problems than marijuana use problems. I know, let's come up with a test to see if you've used alcohol in the last month! Then we'll see how quickly legislators drop this provision.

  55. While they're at it, they should test for nicotine.

  56. This is a great argument, essiecab. Thanks, I will add this to my arsenal when talking to the cruel and duncy who just like to feel better about themselves by dumping on the poor.

  57. Thank you for writing this. From 30 years of working with vulnerable populations, I can tell you the reason the GOP continually tries to push drug testing is simply a futile attempt to prove the unprovable--that people are poor because of their own bad choices. Not because of globalization of the economy, income inequality, access to education, racism, etc. It would be a happy day at Scott Walker's house if he could drug test anyone who benefits from a means-tested program and found half with some substance in their system. But time and again, these testing programs are shown to be an ineffective waste of tax dollars, nothing more but a way for conservatives to try to justify their selfishness and cruelty.

  58. They are poor by act of will of the wealthy. They stay poor by acts of will by the wealthy. Like all systems of subjugation the effects of it often induce the victims to self subjugate without even realizing it. Ad infinitum
    In this case it is the unspoken premise that is the point of raising the idea at all. The unspoken Premise here is the idea that somehow the need for medicaid is caused by drug use and lack of character/morality.
    It isn't. It is caused by minimum wage bandit corporations not paying a living wage and relying on the taxpayer to subsidize their corporate profits. Heck some of these corps would not even be in business if it weren't for the welfare and other subsidies paid to their employees.

  59. So, there are no people who are poor because of bad choices? That's ridiculous.

  60. I agree with every word you said. Whenever I read the latest spate of republican rhetoric, my brain automatically replies with this phrase from the inimatable Charles Dickens: "Oh, to hear the insect on the leaf complaining about the too much life of his brothers in the dust."

  61. I live in a state that requires drug testing for employment. Failing a drug test will cost you unemployment benefits. This is how it's been done for the last two decades and employees accept that this is just part of the employment process. Frankly it's not a big deal.

    Doing drug tests for those who are using government aid will identify people who are abusing drugs and need help. We have a drug epidemic in this country that we need to address. As long as the drug test is being used to help people get the help they need this shouldn't be an issue.

  62. We have an addiction issue in this country. Moral judgment will never cure it. Nor will withholding of health care.

  63. I also live in Oregon and it is a very big deal. Drug testing to obtain benefits you have already earned enrages many people and makes many believe that the government is the enemy. As to the drug epidemic, let me just pick one fact for you.
    According to the CDC, excessive alcohol use is a leading cause of preventable death. This dangerous behavior accounted for approximately 88,000 deaths per year from 2006–2010, and accounted for 1 in 10 deaths among working-age adults aged 20–64 years.
    That death rate is well over double the death rate for opioids. Alcohol has no therapeutic use. Opioids do. But the booze industry spends billions on marketing and god knows how much on bribes for politicians.

  64. Yeah, good old Oregon. So glad I escaped. Toxic workplaces and invasive and ineffective drug testing and no healthcare for low-income workers whose employers do not pay for healthcare.

    New Mexico is far more humane (and sunny!). Healthcare for the poor has always beden provided by UNMH (unlike OHSU) for low-income workers here in New Mexico, even prior to Medicaid expansion, which was very successful here.

  65. Will there ever be any limit to the schemes of the Republican Party in their quest to weed out those most in need of health care?
    Remember the great epidemics of plague, influenza and other dangerous diseases that did not discriminate between color of skin or political affiliation that swept countries less than 100 years ago. And what about more recent diseases such as Polio and HIV?
    Untreated sick people are a huge risk to the population in general.

  66. What drugs are they testing for? Prescription meds? -- If so, then at what point do we also blame the healthcare providers for approving and feely dispensing? (I recently witnessed a nurse or tech asking a patient who had no symptoms whatsoever of pain - we had been talking for the last hour or so - what her "level" was. Without a moment's hesitation, she said "7." Bingo - hand out the tablets. This was in a nursing home. Where is the incentive for helping people get off these drugs?

    Are we talking about marijuana? Oh please. Get over that already. Heroin? - How on earth would it help to cut someone from medicaid -- do you think these people really want to be addicts?

    This makes no sense at all. (And yes, previous efforts re: food program have proven costly with no benefit at all to anyone)

  67. "people who use drugs will not automatically lose benefits, but they will be forced to undergo screening, testing or treatment, or all three, to maintain eligibility"

    Sounds like sound healthcare policy to me. And, I am a physician who works with many Medicaid patients who abuse drugs.

    Continue advocating stupid far left wing policy and we are inviting another term of Trump. Time for liberals and democrats to get real.

  68. The authors bring up something about blacks and Hispanics. Why? Like do they think that the sort of people who support Scott Walker will think less of drug testing if they are told that it targets blacks and Hispanics? NO. They will support it even more.

    The better argument is simply that we all depend on government funded programs, schools, roads, driver licenses, etc. Do we really want the government to have the power to drug test all of us? After all, why not require all licensed drivers to submit to random drug testing; how about if you want to go to school; or get a tax break?

  69. If a group, like a state or federal legislature, can compel drug testing on another group, like Medicaid recipients, both the compelling and compelled groups should be required to be tested pari passu.

    What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

    Right this way to the bathroom, Governor Walker. The drug testing monitor will see you now...

  70. "Drug testing is costly, invasive and ineffective", but that will not deter advocates for Big Brother, such as Gov. Walker. These self-styled "Libertarians" & "Conservatives" are merely throwing red meat to the poorly informed citizens whose ignorance & gullibility they rely on. People call for "personal responsibility" & "consequences for one's actions", when it involves the poor. Why not extrapolate such thinking to the general population, & drug test ALL citizens who enjoy living in our "Great" & "Free" Nation, especially the wealthy. Anyone who knows a young stock trader, banker or hedge fund manager knows of their affinity for various legal substances.

    If they receive handouts from taxpayers via tax laws that favor them, than it's only fair they give up their personal freedoms just as they expect those in poverty to do. Drug test the entire freaking Nation, and drag all of us down to the same level !

  71. A welfare-recipient who chooses to take the test, OF COURSE, is unlikely to fail the test. The recipient knows the test will reveal the drug use and only takes it when she or he expects to pass. This fits perfectly with the drop in program usage in states that tested. The real reason Michener and Kohler-Hausmann oppose the testing is not because would-be recipients don't use drugs, but because they DO use drugs, and Michener and Kohler-Hausmann want them to come forward and receive benefits anyway. It's ok to make that argument, but they should make it openly rather than pretending that the testing has no point.

  72. There is a fixed amount of money available for Medicaid programs so We the People need to know the money is going to help people in need of medical care. We also need to point out the majority (2/3rds), by the authors statement, of Wisconsin's Medicaid recipients are white. Or better yet, say X number of human beings are on Medicaid. We need to stop pushing racial stereotypes.

    So here is the problem. Badger Bob has lived a good clean life but was diagnosed with cancer where as Tootie Snootie is addicted to being addicted. Who will get the limited care dollars? Many will say Badger is more deserving. Drug testing is a potential tool for determining who gets those limited dollars.

    Sadly, the richest country in the world cannot save everyone and at the current rate, we won't even be able to save half of those in need of care. Of course we could if taxes were raised and we had single player.

  73. If course we can. Crying poor is just a Republican way of moving more money to the rich and the warlike.

  74. Look at the Florida experience on this. They spent a fortune and found something like there or four people who had smoked marijuana. The governor transferred the ownership of the testing lab to his wife to avoid conflict of interest.
    The real product of this was to create a new generation of "welfare queens" - a group of people who are not ripping off the system, but can be made to appear as grifters.
    This is an incredibly (nothing is incredible anymore) cynical pocket-stuffer.

  75. The FAA requires drug testing for airline pilots. I've never heard of anyone complaining that pilots are unfairly stigmatized.

  76. Scott Walker is a clever boy. In the previous election he effectively hung his hat on ACT10 which eliminated collective bargaining with 'overpaid' public employees. The neglected rural/Trump type of voter swallowed the bait and sent him to Madison. Similarily, drug testing aid recipients, will effectively serve as his divisive hook to the same category of voter this time around.

  77. It costs good money and it finds few drug users. Efficiency is an argument everyone ought to be able to comprehend.

  78. "If Gov. Scott Walker gets his wish, Wisconsin will be the first state that requires adults without children to undergo drug testing if they want to receive Medicaid. Other states could follow his plan."

    This seems perfectly reasonable - no need to test parents for druuugggs because we all no that no adults with children would do druugggs ever.

    Why waste valuable time and resources testing a demographic group that we all know would never do druugggs.

    Stupid is bad.

    Stupid and mean is worse.

  79. Homeless and other poor should be tested. Many are mentally ill, drug addicts, etc. Nothing is wrong with testing. It can prevent hepatitis and other diseases. It is a lifesaving benefit to the citizens who work and are productive in this country.

  80. While we should not support addiction, mere mild drug use like marijuana,or alcohol for that matter is an escape from the misery of poverty.
    If the government wants to save money they can eliminate MY drug testing 9 times a year, due to chronic pain at a savings of at least 4000$.
    I can assure you I take and use my drugs properly but for some reason they feel the need to test.

  81. Yes, but you don't understand. The proposal to drug test Medicaid recipients isn't about what is effective and what isn't. It's about being cruel to poor people. Because, as we all now know, with ample proof to back it up, there is nothing that makes republicans so happy as the opportunity to be cruel to poor people.

  82. Drug test legislators who want to drug test the poor. My guess is that they will score in double digits, not less than 1%.

  83. Why stop at drug-testing? We could save even more money by forcing people on a scale and comparing the result to their height.

  84. I had to undergo constant drug testing, random drug testing, in my sensitive job. It's not an invasion of privacy or demeaning and it should be instituted in all 50 states immediately if you want the government, the other residents of the U.S., to take care of you.

  85. So did I, and it is offensive and demeaning. Just because you personally don't feel that way, don't assume everyone does.

  86. Let's drug test CEOs before their companies can get tax breaks or government contracts.

  87. It's quite an exaggeration to state that drug testing threatens our democracy. We should coddle drug addicts. When I've worked for Fortune 500 employers, I had to undergo drug testing. My taxes support Medicare, which I don't benefit from and instead purchase my own insurance because I'm self-employed. I am much worse off under Obamacare: my premiums shot up and my benefits decreased markedly. I'm an ardent supporter of universal health care, which we should have just like every other civilized country does. However, I'm not that sympathetic to drug users. They know what they're getting into when the CHOOSE to use drugs. The money spent on these people would be better spent treating those with illnesses they did choose to get. Why should I have to pay for drug addicts' choices?

  88. The opioid drug user is frequently introduced to various pain killing drugs by their doctors. Unfortunately most of these drugs can be quite addictive and the line between just enough and too much is razor thin. Much of the abuse stems from drug companies pushing these drugs on doctors and patients alike through aggressive marketing tactics including ads directed at the public. Chances are that many of them were in medicade,when this happened. Just drug testing a person using painkillers legitimately, doesn't prove they're an addict.

  89. Most states have registries that can be checked to see if someone has a legal prescription for a controlled substance.

  90. Louise Banks, That would be illegal and against HIPPA rules.

  91. What drugs will be tested for? I have no problem testing for opioids like heroin or for cocaine, truly dangerous drugs with no redeeming value and both associated with violent criminality. These people than need help and must have incentive to stay in a rehab program. Leave marijuana out of the testing as full legalization is imminent in most rational states and the herb has legitimate medical and recreational use with less harm than alcohol. To minimize any stigma please apply same tests to anyone whose salary comes from my tax dollars.

  92. So, professors, virtually all of us who are employed had to undergo drug testing before we could be hired, and many of us have compulsory drug testing during our employment. And drug abuse is a serious public health abuse with, as your point out, more people dying from drug abuse than from car accidents. But in your view, the persons whose health care we pay for (since as employed persons we pay taxes) are somehow having their dignity assailed because they might face drug tests to be on various forms of public assistance? Welcome to the real word. No such thing as something for nothing.

  93. why are we drug testing anyone? If someone's sobriety or competence is in question, a mental status exam should sort the issue out. As the authors point out, these tests are an egregious invasion of privacy and a colossal waste of money.

  94. While I am a staunch Democrat, opinions expressed in articles such as this one make Democrats look foolish. Why wouldn't it be a good idea to drug test Medicaid and Public Assistance recipients and require they get treatment and stop using? It is better public policy to just have the public fund their drug using behavior which is likely impacting their ability to live independently and contribute to society? The Democratic Party can't win elections and one reasons is the type of thinking in this article.

  95. Because as noted in the article, it's not a good use of resources. Millions spent testing to find a handful of users. Not a good return, except for those looking to mete out humiliation and punishment to the Medicaid population at large.

  96. Most companies require drug testing as a condition for employment. Why is that not humiliating punishment. Furthermore, the strawman argument feigning concern over the programs cost aside, if the overwhelming majority of applicants are apparently drug free what's the objection.

  97. Why not random drug and alcohol (especially alcohol) testing for all politicians?

  98. There should not, cannot, must not be any condition attached to receiving health care in a civilized country. Everybody must receive adequate and equal care from the day of their birth until they die. It can be done, if people understand that socialized medicine does work. I grew up with it in Austria, I know. I miss it dearly!

  99. The article should recognize that many of these mandatory drug testing programs, made mandatory for entry into government assistance programs, were struck down by the courts. They were simply ruled to be illegal and unconstitutional.

    And, then there is the essential problem that one would then be barred from programs to get OFF drugs because one has been ON drugs.

    The proponents of these ideas must be the same "pro-lifers" who support the death penalty and detest sensible gun restrictions ... and who fail to think about the children and helpless who are dependents in a family headed by someone with a drug problem ...

  100. Sure, make drug testing a condition for receiving federal hand outs. Then tax credits to corporations to keep them in the states, subsidies to teh defense and oil industry, farm subsidies, and any other individuals working at those companies or accepting a deduction for their various positions would have to take a test.
    It does raise a question as to how coke-fueled the frat boy capitalist flunkie mortgage market players were during the bubble.
    Maybe with drug tests they wouldn't have driven the global economy off the cliff.

  101. It should be a sufficient argument against this to note that this drug testing offends the dignity of the individual. That it is not says a lot about the attitude of Americans toward those who need help. The attitude is not one of compassion, but of punishment. This is simply a mean policy with little to no substantive benefit to the public and no benefit to the recipient.

    There are a lot of substantive arguments against this. One I would note is that since this proposal apparently exempts people with children, Wisconsin is creating an incentive for people to have children. I wonder if Wisconsin Republicans, who seem to have a fear of "those people", have really thought this aspect through...

  102. Many illegal drugs can affect a Physicians diagnosis and medication prescription which could adversely affect the health or even the life of the patient.

    My Doctor always asks if I have ingested anything not prescribed or purchased "over the counter". And I am glad he cares!!

  103. My doctor asks me about the types of drugs I use at each visit as well...but then again I'm not forced to submit a urine sample just in case I may be lying.

    In my experience, people are more forthcoming with this information when the relationship with their care provider helps them feel cared for and safe. I just can't agree that shame-based inquiry and treatment is the best way to help people.

  104. Only in this disgusting country. When we grant subsidies to large corporations, or bailed out the financial institutions that led our economy to the brink, we don't ask their leaders to take semi-annual drug tests. But we always insist that the least advantaged among us provide proof that our precious dollars are being spent with measurable efficacy.

  105. "Governor Walker’s administration claims that doing so will “help people get healthy so they can get back in the work force.”

    Classic conservative bias and duplicity.

    "help people get healthy" by threatening their lives and livelihoods.
    Just like "we help people get insurance" by taking their insurance away and raising their rates.

    "help people enter the work force" (as if that is an unalloyed good for anyone but employers and investors) by taking away the less-than-minimal supports that might allow them to find, schedule, prepare for, and and attend job interviews.

    "help make America great" by foreclosing all education options except trade school.

    "protect the environment" by gutting the agency charged to do so and hiding or destroying priceless data to prevent our newly educated public from knowing too much.

    For those who placidly defend these intrusive prejudicial schemes as "Drug testing simply tells them to abide by the law of the land before receiving benefits from the government of that land", to quote a commenter:

    I'd maybe buy that biased argument, but you'd have to agree to drug test bond traders and bank presidents, doctors and lawyers, judges and Senators before they reap the even more massive government handouts you all take for granted every day.

    Their drug tests would have to administered in dingy, beige block basement bathrooms with an unkempt attendant watching their every move. I could really get behind something like that.

  106. Not so long ago in Wisconsin you could follow the money right back to ALEC, its republican members and the lobbyists for big pharma who see lucrative profits in taxpayer funded drug testing despite any compelling cost-benefit analysis. Except in 2016 Wisconsin republicans gutted campaign finance laws to hide sources of corporate donations. Let's also drug test legislators, they're on the taxpayer dime and have full disclosure on who finances their campaigns.

  107. I can understand drug testing employees like airline pilots, truck drivers, doctors, and others. But drug testing people who are poor makes no sense especially if a positive result threatens any assistance they receive. It makes even less sense when a lack of treatment facilities and personnel is factored in. The only way drug testing the poor makes sense if it's being used to deny people benefits or keep people away in an effort to hold down costs. Given who Governor Scott Walker is and what he's done to Wisconsin I don't think it's unrealistic to say that he is more interested in not spending money on poor people than he is in seeing to it that residents of Wisconsin receive benefits that their lack of income entitles them to. It's truly disgraceful the way the GOP treats Americans who are not rich. The moral failing here is not the fact that some poor people use drugs but that people in power want to deprive others of access to medical care and treatment for a myriad of illnesses.

  108. I do want to help the deserving poor..."deserving" being the operative word.

    Why should we taxpayers provide healthcare to people that spent money on drugs that should have been spent on their families or even their own good health?

    They made poor decisions now I have to work overtime TO PAY FOR THEIR BAD DECISIONS? Only at the point of a gun barrel held by the IRS.

  109. Do you know the complete history of the people you don't want to support? Is it preferable to allow them to die in the streets or to continue to create other problems? I'm not happy about it either but anyone of us can become the undeserving poor or drug addict that we say we don't want to help. Some of their bad decisions were made precisely because they are poor, not because they're undeserving or bad. Think about it before you decide whose life is worth saving.

  110. People are poor for both reasons they didn't choose (dysfunctional parent(s), limited cognitive ability, etc) and reasons they contributed too (lazy, breaking the law, etc). Those reasons can easily interact with each other. Once poor, though, it's hard to escape those bonds.

    That said, personal responsibility for one's actions undoubtedly plays a role in their economic status. If govt provides carrots (programs) to help people out of poverty, then it's reasonable to provide a stick (loss of programs). Bottom line: tying an expensive govt program like medicaid to drug testing isn't asking too much. It's not degrading or mean-spirited; it's ensuring people are motivate to carry their share of the bargain for getting free assistance.

  111. Scott, another reason people are poor is because they are injured, unable to work, and/or lack of jobs. Somehow your comment excludes any non-behavioral aspects of poverty. It doesn't take a lifetime of dysfunctional family to be poor, and many rich people are lazy for heaven's sake! Pretty simplistic thinking, Scott.

  112. I'm a physician in Wisconsin. The Medicaid landscape here is more dismal than has been appreciated by national news outlets. Governor Walker is very proud of his decision to reject the ACA subsidies and but consequently insecure about the criticism that he receives for that decision. As such, the governor is working hard to put policies in place that restrict access to care, so that he can then turn around and boast about our annual Medicaid surplus (it was $300 million this year). In addition to drug testing, he has also imposed restrictions like ED copays, health risk assessment requirements, and eligibility time limits. To some fiscal conservatives, this all sounds good on paper; however, the working poor and those living in poverty often have limitations in terms of transportation, health literacy, ability to get time off work, etc. Exploiting these barriers is intentional. Governor Walker's standard line is that "We should treat public assistance more like a trampoline than a hammock." As an emergency physician on the front lines, I am seeing unnecessary suffering as Medicaid recipients (or non-eligibles) postpone or skip primary care due to inability to meet eligibility requirements. Hammocks, it turns out, are much safer than trampolines.

  113. Too much nuance for most Republicans to comprehend, but if we had drug testing for Medicaid, then let's have it for SBA loan borrowers and all other borrowers who receive the governmental benefit of guaranties or reduced interest costs. And, while we are at it, let's test every legislator and his or her staff; oh, why not the executive branch occupants. If we have a principle that governmental benefits mean drug testing, make it universally apply or apply to no one.

  114. I do not believe that "every legislator and his or her staff" are receiving government benefits. Those that do receive such benefits should be tested, no matter their position.

  115. Perhaps, so let's limit the testing to those that receive a salary or office space or any other "benefit" in the largest sense of the term.

  116. it would make sense to add to the list student loan borrowers.

  117. People with insurance through their jobs get help from the government through tax relief. The Employer Sponsored Insurance exclusion cost the federal government an estimated $260 billion in income and payroll taxes in 2017 making it the single largest tax expenditure. Some of the comments seem to begrudge the poor fewer and cheaper benefits.

  118. Routine drug testing of elected officials at all levels of government makes more sense. Medicaid recipients poor decisions mainly effect themselves and their families, but elected officials make choices that effect us all.

  119. This is one of those exceedingly rare times when I agree with the Republicans. Income should not be a basis for testing or not testing. Not all poor people are deserving of a free ride at the expense of the truly needy ones.

  120. I personally don't see a problem with drug testing. The financial health of Medicaid is being threatened for the millions that really need it. If you are on drugs many misuses their benefits which then cause problems to the whole system.

    If you are on drugs and need Medicaid, then the person should be required to enroll in a drug program. They can get off drugs and probably have fewer health problems, which would help the Medicaid system.

    Health insurance is expensive and w all need to help keep costs down so that ALL can have access to health needs when needed.

  121. You have to submit a sample whenever you apply for a job nowadays. I don't know anyone who's chosen permanent jobless over having a screening.

  122. We should absolutely drug test them and ANYONE who requests benefits that the taxpayer pays for.

    If you can't stay clean, you get no help!

    How weak must one be to not only need the government to survive but be unable to cope a day without drugs.....?

  123. why aren't our entire congress, the "presidents" and his enablers, certain governors and elected officials drug tested? the findings, i'm sure, would be very eye-opening.

  124. Mandatory random drug AND alcohol tests for all politicians at the federal level would disqualify at least one well-known loudmouth from SC.

    We should also have mandatory release of tax returns.

  125. The JAMILA MICHENER and JULILLY KOHLER-HAUSMANN suggestion is very revealing.
    Why should poor people have to follow the law and not burden tax payers with their self induced health and financial problems? Is this not what legitimate charities and self help organizations should and will do?

    Better yet let's carve out an even more lucrative benefit for minorities and expand all entitlements until the enslavement of the entire US population is complete and we are all under government control. Perhaps then we can compete with Europe in the race to no middle class or even China and Russia in the individuality meritocracy subjugation sweepstakes.

  126. The implicit racial bigotry of the Republican Party rears it's hideous head once again. The drug testing for Medicaid eligibility favored by "C" student, college dropout, misogynist and homophobe, Scott Walker, is a cynical effort to curry favor with the Republican base, and cater to the chronic racism which afflicts the Republican Party. It is an almost absolute certainty that the Republican position on any safety net issue will adversely effect the minority community. Recently, there has been a notable exception which proves the racism allegation, the universal Republican concern over opioid addiction, an overwhelmingly "white" issue.

  127. I'm confused - did Walker say they were only drug testing minorities?

  128. You buried the lead. Drug testing people who get public assistance is a policy intentionally designed to humiliate people and, time after time, has proven to be a waste of money. This is part of the broader GOP agenda to stereotype poor people and push the false perception that public assistance beneficiaries are shiftless black and brown people.

  129. When confronted with the numbers of unfortunates who live poorly and die early, one would think that such problems would solve themselves by attrition; but we know that is not the case. In our present culture with all its positive aspects, the negative aspects will continue to spawn new poverty and more unnecessary death and suffering. The problems will not die off. The actual situation is that our policies and attitudes simply open more opportunity for our irresponsible and lazy government to fuel our worst problems.

  130. If I can be drug tested each year for my job, the delicate poor can be drug tested for government benefits........

    Who are they to be exempt just because they are at the bottom of the heap?

  131. 'Of all the ways to help Americans with drug problems, ...'

    Believe me, Scott Walker has no interest in helping Wisconsin citizens with drug problems.

  132. Drug testing is not even anywhere near cost effective and it alienates people, 6 ID'ed for a million Dollars spent! The best thing Scott Walker and his uptight Republicans can do for Wisconsin is leave and leave soon or the middle class will become poorer and poorer and the rich of course, -------.

  133. Sounds like a HUGE additional expense!

  134. Yup!. In true GOP form they have sought expanded government, an excuse to spend more money by using a false moral argument and looking down on people. Rest assured the drug testing corps who will benefit will be GOP approved maybe even owned by some of the pols who voted on the legislation.

  135. Another reason not to drug test poor people is that "drug tests" are, in practice, "marijuana tests." That's because most drugs are no longer detectable if a user stays clean for a few days, but marijuana is detectable for a much longer amount of time. So drug testing in practice would end up penalizing poor people who smoke marijuana.

  136. It might therefore occur to to the prospective medicaid applicant that spending one's apparent limited income on marijuana isn't any better an idea than spending it on any other drug.

  137. As others have noted, drug testing is not just for the poor. In any heavy industry, you are subject to random drug tests all the time. I've been tested dozens of times. It is inconvenient and I wish it wasn't necessary but I don't feel stigmatized. Just because someone feels stigmatized is not a valid reason not to drug test.

    I understand why I am drug tested it is a matter of safety in the work place; however, from reading this article I didn't get a clear understanding of what the government wants to achieve by drug testing this group of people

    The government needs to tell people precisely what the objective of the drug test is.
    Is it to identify people who need treatment?
    Is it to deny benefits to people using drugs?

    Unless you have an objective for this activity then it is a waste of everyone's time and money.

  138. Yes and in most states EMPLOYEES who test positive for drugs are given the chance to seek treatment. Their health insurance isn't taken away.

  139. Don't test poor people for drug abuse. Let them continue to indulge in the recreational drugs which landed many of them into their dire straits in the first place and keep them out of treatment programs thereby perpetuating their misery. Good idea.

    You want public money? Clean yourself up or at least make an effort. Do that and then maybe you won't be needing public money anymore and you will be able to stand on your own two feet and contribute to society and your family.

    What is the argument in favor of perpetuating drug abuse?

  140. Actually, this is a cost benefit issue: it costs MORE to administer the tests than it "saves" by identifying drug abusers. Out of a finite amount of dollars, is this really the best use of funds?

    Also, what in the end do we do with drug addicts and alcoholics who are not able to work: we pay for emergency room care, often on a revolving door basis. They make up some of the homeless population. Many of them have chronic mental illness. So screen away, but screen for everything- do a complete exam - and instead of screening out, send them to treatment.

  141. "...submit to degrading invasions of privacy."

    Every year of my US Air Force Officer career I was required to be drug tested along with all the rest of the USAF. Was that "...degrading invasions of privacy."? We didn't think so. Just part of the job.

    But now people requesting free medical care from the same government find a drug test to be "...degrading invasions of privacy."

    How can a Physician properly diagnose and prescribe medication without knowing what drugs are in the patients system that might affect the diagnosis or worse interact with prescribed medication resulting in harm or even death to the patient?

    And yes I do assume that many people seeking free medical care probably do spend their money on drug addictions. Sorry liberals....that is just the history of America.

  142. Sorry Ed, false equivalency. You were drug tested in the Air Force because you had to work with aircraft, ammunition, heavy equipment, engage in combat, etc., things the military does where you HAVE TO BE clean and sober. Being asked to be drug tested just to receive Medicaid benefits is just downright mean spirited and stigmatizing as the article points out.

  143. Absolutely, but you're being far to limited in your scope. Really, all people receiving Medicare should also be tested. Same goes for the police. Oh, and all politicians should definitely be tested. Most of all, and I'm certain we agree on this, the President should be tested, perhaps hourly. How else can you explain his erratic behavior?

  144. "And yes I do assume that many people seeking free medical care probably do spend their money on drug addictions."

    Ah, no.

  145. Suppose you test for mental illness, rather than drug abuse, and deny benefits unless those who test positive consent to psychological treatment. What if they also have diabetes and for some reason don't want the psych treatment? You deny treatment of the diabetes?
    Same thing with drug abuse. If you're sincere in wanting to help them and our society, you don't twist their arm like this.
    Also, I like the point made by another commenter suggesting that we test for use of alcohol, which is said to be more addictive than marijuana.
    As for the commenters who compare this to routine employment tests, they forget that that leaves a choice -- there other employers you can approach if you want to avoid the drug tests. Many people lack such options when it comes to healthcare.

  146. Unless employment involves public safety there is no justification for testing whatever.

  147. Amen to this. Drug addiction is a disease that no one wants, and that can afflict anyone, no matter the income. There is no "them" and "us" here, as if those who have become addicted are other sort of being than ''us" the righteous. If we drug test for Medicaid, then we should drug test for tax breaks and every other way in which middle-class and wealthy people benefit from government policies. Before they make decisions on our health care, maybe every member of Congress should have to pass a drug test. This is just another way to humiliate the poor.

  148. Not everyone who gets high is an addict.
    Using mind altering substances is common and normal to all animals on the planet.

    The unspoken topic here is the idea that somehow the need for medicaid is caused by drug use.
    it isn't. It is caused by minimum wage bandit corporations not paying a living wage and relying on the taxpayer to subsidize their corporate profits. Heck some of these corps would not even be in business if it weren't for the welfare and other subsidies paid to their employees.

  149. I have a friend with six kids. They cost my town 120k a year to educate. My friend's tax bill is 10k and 80% goes to the schools. The subsidy from her neighbors' taxes is 94%. When all the kids are graduated over 20 years, the total bill will be $1.5 million dollars and her contribution 160k (100 years of property tax gets her halfway to the bill).

    She does not work. People like me who went to parochial school and have no kids never took a dime in public education money, and we subsidize her kids.

    Should she be means tested? Some people think you'd have to be on drugs to have six kids. Should she be drug tested?

    Someone please explain to me the difference between her education subsidy and a health care subsidy, or Medicaid. And then tell me why some deserve drug testing while others do not.

  150. Six students in public schools do not cost 120K per year. On average, most school districts spend between 5 and 11 thousand per student per year. Your figures are off. Educating children is not a subsidy from one group of people to another, it is an investment in the future of the nation. The District of Columbia spends one of the highest amounts per student at 18K per year. California spends on average just over ten thousand per student, per year.

    I have no respond to your question at the end.

  151. Few people who cite another person's financial position/tax liability rarely have all the information necessary to make these assertions.
    Government subsidized Public Education provides benefits to the state & individuals. Education leads to employment which reduces crime, & increases public health. Some founding fathers (Adams & Jefferson) believed that education was central to the success of democracy. A well educated public has means that people are able to understand, research & evaluate ideas which lead to a population that can make informed decisions. Education increases political and civic participation! Trump is trying to privatize education though.
    If the US considered healthcare similarly, we would have single payer health care. Trump is trying to dismantle the closest thing we have to single payer (the ACA) which tries to ensure the health of the general populace. A healthy populace is of equal benefit to us. You're smart. Figure it out.

    The primary problem with drug testing people who receive public benefits is that it is a waste of money 99% of the time. Poor people use drugs 1/10th the rate of the general population. It is time to stop this insanity.

    Iv'e no doubt you receive some service from government that you do not pay the total cost. By your logic you too should be drug tested. You aren't special because you went to private school. You are privileged. It was a choice. It does not mean you do not benefit from others being educated with tax $$.

  152. Addiction is a disease, period. Our understanding of the physical and mental issues that surround addiction have progressed over the last few decades, but the belief that it is some type of moral depravity is still very strong.

    Fro centuries people with Hansen's Disease (leprosy) were stigmatized and shunned by religious edict as being, somehow, unclean. We now know it is an infection that can be easily treated.

    Refusing care for epilepsy or heart disease will not cure these conditions. It will not cure addiction. Prison will not cure epilepsy or heart disease. It will not cure addiction.

    Let us now move into the twenty first century.

  153. Good grief, huge difference between the conditions you state and a druggie

  154. In case this hasn't been pointed out already:

    "Drug testing also jeopardizes our democracy. For many of the more than 70 million Americans who rely on Medicaid, state-run programs, like Wisconsin’s Badgercare, are their closest contact with the state. This is how people learn firsthand about government."

    Exactly. Some of us may remember the dust-up in 2002 over the WSJ editorial that called the poor "lucky duckies" because they pay little or no Federal income tax. Why was this wrong, according to the WSJ? Because it led the poor to see government as a friend rather than an enemy. See Paul Krugman's column on the subject:


  155. Citizens NEED to know that other people are paying their medical or other bills.
    The last fifty years have been an experiment in ignorance about costs of government programs, but the people getting help HAVE to understand that this help they are getting is part of why everyone's taxes are so high.
    Responsibility is always a good thing.

  156. One of the unrecognized challenges is that withholding Medicaide does not always have the biggest impact on the recipient, but rather on the caregiver. This move would punish caregivers as much as the drug user. The way the current system works , for the most part, patients receive care regardless of their ability to pay. If they have no other way to pay Medicaide gives their provider some payment, if they don't have Medicaide no payment is usually received.

  157. if drug testing and forced treatment for drug users is a good thing, why not just require everyone to do it, or make it a condition of accessing any public service. It makes no sense to impose this as a condition to accessing medicare but nothing else. And why just target drugs? What about tobacco, alciohol, obesity?

  158. If we're going to drug test Medicaid, why not all other government social programs as well. Drug test any recipients of a large estate, subject to the current estate tax. Drug test those members of banks who received large bailouts during the financial crisis. Drug test all of those who would receive a large tax break through passage of the American Health Care Act.

  159. It is a good idea to let those willing to experiment with addicting drugs know that if they get hooked, things will change regarding their medical care. States HAVE to try new things to deal with the flood of drugs and its effects on citizens.

    What should not happen is the loss of food assistance to homes where an adult is using drugs. The victim in that case is the child. If some states still want to take this assistance from the homes affected by addiction, then the kids should be removed and placed in foster care.
    Just about anything beats government-sponsored child malnutrition.

  160. The government may not place children in foster care as a punishment for a parent who fails to pass a drug test. And the issue in this column is about the Medicaid that was extended to single people without children.

    I also wonder about your disdain for anyone who might ever try a potentially addicting drug. Alcohol is the biggest one - and causes tremendous hardship, health problems and accidents - so only serving teetotalers would drastically reduce the Medicaid budget. And as for marijuana - usually one of the drugs tested for - it is still unclear that it is physically addicting. The issue is will we treat those with life destroying addictions as patients, or as criminals or outcasts - along with identifying what treatments actually work.

  161. This article is generally correct about the effects of drug testing. It also points out the total hypocrisy of Republicans that claim they want to keep government out of the business of the people.

    On a grander scale worth fight, however, it needs to be understood that leaving this issue up to states, and using state medicaid as a replacement for a national system, is a losing game. It isn't worth fighting for a better medicaid program anymore. It is also obvious why state-based single-payer systems like the one California was trying to pass are a bad idea.

    A federal single-payer health system is the proper solution, it would be wildly sustainable, affordable and popular if done properly, and this is the only health care program worth fighting for anymore. Nothing else is worth the fight, including the ACA. The Republican plans will fail to pass, but not because of a grass roots fight. As bad as these plans are, they fail the test of any semi-rational person.

  162. Thank you, Dave. Well said. When I volunteered to walk door to door to gather signatures in support of the ACA in 2009, there was also a group of supporters for single-payer healthcare. I dropped out of that group because though I felt they were pursuing the correct solution long-term, I wanted to see ANY improvement to the current and inhumane chaos that was U.S. "healthcare" and so elected to volunteer for implementation of the ACA for immediate relief.

    Now in 2017 the incompetent and cruel Republicans have proved that the single-payer supporters' position was correct all along. However, the ACA was a step towards that ultimate goal, and I am proud of that effort on the part of Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi and our representatives and Senators and countless volunteers like me.

  163. Do some research on the NHS in the UK

  164. Why not the ones with children seems many are using Medicaid as their insurance of choice while not getting married. Having children and not working to keep yourself qualified is the American way

  165. If 70 million people are on Medicaid and the drug tests were 99% accurate, you'd have 700,000 false readings. If you assume they mistakes are equally divided between false positives and negatives, you have 350,000 people losing benefits because of false positives.

    As the accuracy of the tests decline --- let's say you assume they are 95% accurate, which still looks good ---you have 3.5M false readings or 1.75 million people with false positives.

    My guess would be if the person with the false positive doesn't fit the stereotype of a drug user --- a neatly dressed, white-haired, white woman --- she'd find it easier to get a retest than someone who better fits the stereotype of a drug user. Woe betide the young black man with a false positive!

  166. Given given the example of Flynt, Mi. - how about testing for lead instead?

  167. Nasty! Vindictive! The worst kind of Puritans!

    With the exception of a few shining examples, humans have generally disrespected the poor; the misfortunate have been stigmatized and blamed for their own misfortune---that and/or "bad blood," "the sins of the fathers..." They had to be kept in their places and examples needed to me made,"pour encourager les autres." America was better than that. But now, the worst kind of human, red in virtual tooth and claw, is king of the du'hill. A century of civilization is eroded.

  168. The far right - of whom Scott Walker is a prime example - believe that being poor is a sin. They just really don't want poor people to exist, and believe that their impoverished condition is a result of "bad choices." This thinking is, for the most part, absurd. Most poor people got that way because they had poor parents, are members if a racial or ethnic minority, and/or have health issues. Sure - a few choose to not work or choose jobs with low pay. But most people (poor or rich) want to have more money, are willing to work for it, and are willing to defer short term gain for long term success.

    So - this kind of horrible legislation is right in line with the radical thinking of people like Scott Walker. Punish the poor! They don't deserve basic liberties!

  169. If Walker gets his way, perhaps the governor should have been drug tested too - before taking the oath of office. How about a drug test for millionaires and billionaires before they get a tax cut? Does POTUS-elect and incoming members of Congress get a drug test? They receive compensation from tax payers after all.

    Revoking Medicaid to someone who comes in for treatment of opioid addiction - how Republican!

  170. This is yet another draconian effort to punish people for being poor. Hey, its your fault your life didn't work out well and now we, the public, are going to make you pay and pay just to survive. Don't like it? Too bad.

    People who are unemployed and/or locked in poverty are more likely to use drugs than the general population. Despair, disappointment and depression are strong indicators of someone who would turn to drugs for some sense of temporary relief or comfort. Hitting people when they're down, that's the American way? If we demonize the poor enough, we don't have to care at all what happens to them, as long as it is out of sight.

    This appears to be just a boldfaced effort to knock people out of benefits to "save money", which ultimately doesn't work because society winds up paying in one way or another. The bills always come due, even if it is for the criminal justice system and putting people in jail which, on average, costs as much or more per year than Harvard college.

  171. They are not punished for being poor, Doug. They are given an incentive to get off drugs.

  172. No, an incentive would be a carrot. This is adding a beating to an already beaten person. You can't make a car with a dead battery start by draining the oil, you need to give it energy.

  173. You bring up a good point, many people are using the drugs available to them to treat their mental health issues. That these drugs are not as effective as prescription drugs, and also cause addiction is not their fault.

  174. There is a very arrogant assumption here that only poor people have addiction problems, and that making it more difficult to get benefits will allow the rest of us to feel superior. The trouble with that assumption is that addiction is not a problem of the poor, nor is it a problem so simple to fix. Are we stupid enough to believe that if we hold out Medicaid benefits like some kind of carrot, that our nations drug problems will be solved? It is so much more complicated than that. People with addictions need deep mental health support, safe housing, and a supportive community to get to the other side. Cutting them off from minimal health benefits accomplishes nothing.

  175. I agree with the commenter who wrote elsewhere that this emphasis on "personal responsibility" is just a justification for people who don't want to feel any empathy or responsibility for the poor and disadvantaged. It permits them to walk away guilt-free, clutching their precious tax dollars (before they're taken for defense spending).

    I'd also note that under that cruel philosophy, this policy makes little sense. If people on Medicaid and other forms of welfare are truly so lazy, self-serving, and irresponsible, there's an easy way for them to avoid the drug tests -- have a kid! (The drug testing requirement is, according to the article, only going to be imposed on adults without children.) Isn't this what conservatives always imagine is happening in areas where people want more benefits?

  176. Perhaps we should drug test all people who receive the mortgage interest deduction.

  177. ..or to get a driver's license..

  178. This actually makes more sense, drugged driving is actually dangerous others. Perhaps a yearly random drug test for all licensed drivers?


  179. My point is why not just test everybody who receives anything from the government regardless of their socioeconomic status. This is obviously just another way of punishing the poor for being poor. Maybe there's a little racism thrown in.

    There's no particular utility to this requirement other than to humiliate and damage people in need.

  180. Interesting how the same people who don't want people to register their guns because it's an invasion of privacy have no problem invading the privacy of people who need Medicaid. Also, the argument that "if you're law abiding" you shouldn't mind taking a drug test - but don't try that argument for registering your gun!

  181. How about we add a requirement for the minimum wage bandit corporations who are getting a subsidy from the taxpayer via all assistance programs pay back that subsidy to the taxpayers to this drug test requirement?

  182. pesky problem of that constitution thing.

  183. "Are there no prisons?" asked Scrooge. "And the Union workhouses?" demanded Scrooge. "Are they still in operation?" "The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?" said Scrooge. Then let the states enforce them.

    Treat the vulnerable as criminals makes them victims of a cruel and contemptuous GOP party belief that those without choose their path, that those will illness lived a risky life and that those in need refuse to do for themselves.

    These sorts of policies are going to Make America Shameful Again.

  184. If people would stop thinking of the poor as animals, and start thinking of them as fellow citizens who "there for the grace of God go I" - none of this would be happening. And Scott Walker should remember his scouts oath when he proposes laws!

  185. I don't see why people on public assistance can't choose? Do you want help or do you want drugs? Fairly simple decision in my book.

  186. Well Michael, then you don't understand addiction's power to turn what may have initially been a (bad) choice into a debilitating compulsion. There's lots of factual information available out there if you care to read any books besides your own.

  187. Addiction is first of all a series of bad choices. Are we not responsible for our choices? No, I guess not. To many addicts and those "in recovery" seem to want to give their demographic a pass.

  188. A physician I work with says that 70% of the babies born in the hospital where he works, are drug tested positive, meaning that they are born addicted to the drugs their mothers are on. This is a HUGE problem that no one wants to talk about. These babies are born with a litany of medical issues, all borne by you and me the US taxpayer. What is wrong with this picture? And this hospital is not in a rural area but in a city with 75,000 people.

  189. A positive drug test does not indicate addiction.
    That number sound so high I have to question it. Have you submitted this data to the Times or any other news organization?
    It might be possible in the areas where the GOP has helped big pharma create the opioid epidemic but I think the public would have been informed of such a tragic situation in Richmond whether it be Virginia or California.

  190. Why don't you name this hospital, Anita? If the 70% is accurate, then there must be a public record of it.

    Or is this an alternate fact?

  191. According to a remarkably quick Google search, the NIH (at drugabuse.gov) said in 2012 that an infant addicted to opioids was born every 25 minutes in the United States, a rate that had increased by a factor of 5 since 2000. This cost hospitals approximately 1.5 billion dollars, and 81% of that was picked up by Medicaid. So, considering that opioid use and addiction has sky-rocketed in recent years, and depending on location, those numbers do not strike me, at least, as entirely implausible.
    (Surely, you are capable of Googling this yourselves next time?)
    At any rate--that's quite a lot of money. I wouldn't argue that we shouldn't cover children born addicted to drugs, or their parents, but I just don't see the issue with testing and mandatory treatment.

  192. Because the poor should always be treated like royalty, should be showered with gifts they didn't earn and don't deserve, and ordinary people should be forced to pay them.

    Right, Jamila? Right Julilly?

  193. You do realize that most of the poor in the US are white, right? And that most people who are poor and able-bodied do work?

    Do you also reject public education for the children of poor parents? Because it's a gift they haven't earned? Should they be banned from using roads because it's a gift they haven't earned? Do you understand that ill-health can cause poverty? That it is a significant cause of poverty? That getting people healthy means they can start to work and work more effectively (thus earning more wages)? That providing health care for families increases the chances their children will grow up healthy and productive members of society? That reducing ill-health reduces the chances of infectious epidemics, which can spread throughout the population? Health is a public good for all citizens, if your neighbors are healthy, then you are less likely to become ill and your community will be stronger overall.

  194. Now you are just being silly.

  195. Drug test Congress first.

  196. Okay peeing in a cup is NOT an invasion of your privacy and in the second paragraph they basically stated that they are okay with drug addicted people to to be on Medicaid. I don't want part of my pay check to fund more drug abuse. If businesses can have random drug tests at any point why can't the government. Why do I get fired for having drugs in my system while at work yet people who are receiving aid from tax payers are allowed to continue on using drugs. Completely disagree with this article.

  197. Then I think you should be advocating that the minimum wage bandit corporations start paying us back for the subsidy they have been getting from us via food stamps, medicaid, welfare and so on.

  198. You'd rather part of your pay check fund drug testing that reveals less than 1% of the people on Medicaid take illegal drugs? How do you feel about government waste? Cutting people off from health care that can treat drug addiction because they're addicted to drugs makes absolutely no sense. That would be like cutting people off from cancer treatment because they have cancer.

    Oh, wait....that's exactly what McConnell and his buddies want to do. Never mind.

  199. Brandon, reread the article. The misguided and wasteful drug testing referred to is to get Medicaid which your paycheck deductions pay for, but not a cash payment program. It is a health insurance program which btw covers prescription drugs including abusable narcotics and amphetamines. If denied Medicaid, those with the disease of substance addiction will not to get treatment and will continue to obtain drugs illicitly. The real waste of your tax dollars is the "war on drugs", a 40+ year failed effort that costing taxpayers Trillions of dollars, and is basically a jobs program for law enforcement and the prison-industrial complex. "Substance abuse costs our Nation over $600 billion annually and... treatment has been shown to reduce associated health and social costs by far more than the cost of the treatment itself. and is also much less expensive than incarcerating addicted persons... the average cost for 1 full year of methadone maintenance treatment is approximately $4,700 per patient, whereas 1 full year of imprisonment costs approximately $24,000 per person...addiction treatment reduces drug use and its associated health and social costs... every dollar invested in addiction treatment programs yields a return of between $4 and $7 in reduced drug-related crime, criminal justice costs, and theft. When savings related to healthcare are included, total savings can exceed costs by a ratio of 12 to 1." https://source.wustl.edu/2016/09/cost-incarceration-u-s-1-trillion/

  200. Start with tobacco users. There are 10 Million smokers on Medicaid. Disqualifying them from the program or reducing their benefits could save an enormous sum of money for the taxpayers who would no longer be on the hook for expensive medical treatments due to a self-inflicted condition.

    The Surgeon General's report on smoking and health was issued in 1964. That's a year before Medicaid started. The time has come to make brutally hard decisions about medical care as it relates to poor lifestyle habits.

  201. Swell idea, Dan.

    Then we can refuse medical care for folks who don't exercise at least three times per week; consistently drink more than two cocktails or four glasses of wine per day; fail to eat adequate fruits and veggies; don't get at least eight hours of sleep per night; fail to get in out of the cold or rain; don't use sunblock; wear goggles when using power equipment, and have BMI's in the overweight/obese ranges.

    Think of how much money we'd save then!

  202. Then the first brutally hard decision should be to recoup the costs of medicaid and all assistance programs from the corporations whom they are actually a hidden subsidy for.

  203. There is an underlying presumption on the part of Conservatives that poor people have chosen a lifestyle based upon incentives in the social safety net that encourages slovenly behavior that is reinforced across generations. Liberals believe that the poor are all victims of a society that for a variety of reasons dealt them a bad hand and that the poor must toil at three jobs while walking an hour each way to work. Unfortunately, neither side is correct. A more rigorous look at social policies, their effect, their incentives and disincentives coupled with a non-partisan view of behaviors and culture that affect success needs to be done. When a population of people are consumers of tax payer services, there is a legitimate public interest in bounding these programs. Frankly, I dont support drug testing though widespread drug usage is a major impediment to workers. However, I do find that research into poverty is often done with an agenda and this is not of value

  204. The knowledge is known. The causes of poverty are known. How it affects generational growth and development of children is known. Remember there is something in the bible about "unto the 7th generation.." which makes reference to this fact of human development.
    Anyway if a poor family had a living wage job and the education in how to live well that they lack and the self esteem that comes from knowing the things they do not as well as a way to deal with the shame of not knowing and the pain of feeling stupid after finding out what they haven't known and then the anger of having that info kept from them by people who knew they needed it but never gave it and so on and so on and so on.

    If long term jobs became available the majority would pull up and we would not see most of them again. But there is a core of people who lack the most basic knowledge of how to be a person never mind how to live in a modern society.

    It is very complex and the people with the ability to fix it don't want to give up the income keeping and spreading poverty lets them have.

  205. "If long term jobs became available the majority would pull up and we would not see most of them again. But there is a core of people who lack the most basic knowledge of how to be a person never mind how to live in a modern society. "

    I meant to mention here that this sort of ignorance takes more than one or two generations to correct.

  206. I generally agree with what you are saying but would argue that both conservatives and liberals understand that not all poor people utilizing public assistance programs are purely victims or entirely at fault personally for their circumstances. The difference, as I see it, is that conservatives would rather cut off support to people truly in need due to circumstances beyond their control in order to ensure nobody is gaming the system while liberals are willing to support the less-than-sympathetic portion of the population that take advantage of these services in order to ensure that all of those that are truly in need can access the assistance they need. Personally, I generally lean towards the liberal side and view view it in terms of Blackstone's formulation (It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer).

  207. This is not surprising as Wisconsin is #1 in the nation in racial inequality. Only 6% of Wisconsinites are black, but 50% of prison inmates are blacks. I completely agree with the authors that drug testing stigmatizes and harms the poor. It is a racist program that is aimed at black people. Scott Walker idolizes Ronald Reagan who brought the racist concept of "Welfare Queen" to the American psyche. This program is aimed at the black population of Wisconsin. Why doesn't Scott Walker call for drag-nets around Wisconsin supper clubs, and have the police give breathalyzer tests for alcohol to all the white people. You would find a high number of drunk drivers. Alcohol is as great a problem in Wisconsin, if not more, than drug usage by Medicaid recipients. Several years ago, I sent Gov. Scott Walker two books to read, which explain in depth the truth about inequality to blacks in our justice system. "Punishing Race" by Michael Tonry, and "The New Jim Crow" by Michelle Alexander. It is obvious he never read them or his compartmentalized conservative mind just ignores the facts and truth and he believes his own biased thinking. He also demonstrates the fine art of Republican conservative cruelty, as he is a strong supporter of the effort to repeal "ObamaCare", transferring $600 billion in wealth to enrich the already rich by cutting health care for the elderly and needy.

  208. This is a Catch-22. In order to get drug treatment to get drug free, you have to be drug free.

  209. If Walker really wants to identify drug addicts to help them, he could build better wrap-around services to address the core issues: mental illness, homelessness, poverty...maybe then preparing some to re-enter the workforce.

    If Walker wants to use his carrot/stick policy to appear tough on drug abuse while simultaneously trimming the state Medicaid costs, it might look good on paper but it inevitably shifts the problems of drug addiction to another government agency, or worse, the limited and overcrowded non-profit services

    C'mon, Wisconsin, Walker isn't known for his charitable legislation. This proposal doesn't provide any incentives for drug addicts other than desperate alternatives, i.e., drug prostitution, petty crime, increases in uncovered emergency room visits, undetected diseases...and taxpayers still pick up the tab.

  210. "...he could build better wrap-around services to address the core issues: mental illness, homelessness, poverty..."

    Funny, Liberal government policies and programs were supposed to have done that already. And for some reason, they still haven't worked? Isn't the definition of insanity "keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome"?

  211. You're right. If they were "liberal" policies in the first place, they were too little too late. Politicians look for quick fixes on either side of the aisle. They go for re-election policies. They end up with watered down legislation that just pushes the problem down the road.

    IMHO, this is not a partisan problem. Walker's proposal is a near-sighted attempt at trimming Wisconsin Medicaid costs. As a taxpayer, I'd like to trim those costs as well, but shifting the problems of drug addiction ends up costing us more as this problem continues to grow. Pay now, pay later. At what cost?

  212. Really? You expect Obamacare to have already solved all mental illness in the US in just a few years, with inadequate numbers of mental health professionals? Homelessness and poverty have never been adequately addressed at all. If you haven't tried something, you certainly can't say it's been tried over and over.

  213. Scott Walker needs to be tested for drugs. He certainly needs to be tested
    for hallucinatory drugs as he hallucinates about 95% of the policies he thinks
    about. From treating public employees like dirt to drug testing for Medicaid
    beneficiaries he is a man who treats people shamefully. If Scott Walker wants
    to run for governor again he should be drug tested before he is allowed to run.

  214. Why is it that drug-testing those who are asking for government benefits is negative "stigmatizing", when military personnel are routinely drug-tested in order to hold their jobs; when an applicant for a Lowe's job is drug-tested; when commercial truck drivers and pilots are drug-tested after an accident; and many other examples of drug-testing. Why should the poor and needy get a pass for destructive behavior when the rest of us do not? The argument that "oh, they need those health benefits" could equally apply to the Staff Sergeant who gets fired after coming up positive for marijuana.

  215. I would prefer to see those whose jobs would not be affected by taking drugs be protected from testing rather than it be extended to other people whose testing is also unnecessary. I'd say though, that it's a given that people who carry weapons or operate machinery which could be dangerous should be tested if the fate of many others relies on their being at their best. The Lowes person certainly wouldn't need random testing.

  216. If you are going to drug test people because they receive money from government programs then you need to drug test every one who benefits from taxes. This would include federal government employees and state employees in programs that receive fed funding. Congreemen and their staff should be tested. The Supremes and their staff. The President, probably the person who needs it most, and his staff should be tested. Testing in private industry on any government contract should be tested. If you dive on a federal highway or receive mail you should be tested.

    That list includes the majority of folks in the US. EVERYONE benefits from tax dollars. This would be the only fair way to do this.

  217. These sorts to proof of moral decency tests are passive aggressive ways of enforcing prejudicial belief's without ever having to state them clearly in the open or prove them as well. It relies on assumptions and inferences that disappear under scrutiny.

  218. Should we not drug test elected politicians? Seems they live outside reality as they can't see it when it's slapping them in the face. We all know who the real drug dealers are in this country built on lies. We lie to ourselves in order to justify our beliefs which the main steam media has worked so hard to craft in conjunction with their editorial manipulator'$. Just watch CBS, NBC or any of the others, then watch Democracy Now. Then lie to yourself?

  219. I believe that all laws enacted by Congress and signed by POTUS should be applied first to all politicians and every person receiving cash directly from the government, for six months, before the laws are imposed on the rest of America. This includes all government workers and welfare recipients.

  220. Unless you are on parole, operating heavy machinery/driving a school bus/flying an airplane, or perform pediatric brain surgery, there is no legitimate reason to drug test ANYONE. End of discussion. Mandatory drug testing violates our 4th Amendment rights.

    They tried this in Wisconsin, I believe...and absolutely NO welfare recipients tested positive. Not. A. Single. One.

    The Republican hypocrisy of preaching against the "nanny state" yet sticking its business in our personal lives as a caveat for assistance continues to drown in cognitive dissonance.

  221. You might add "driving a car" to those activities that require sobriety. And testing to ensure that sobriety.

  222. Perhaps the Liberal hypocrisy of preaching that everyone is equal yet taking money from one group of Americans to shower on the poor and the needy continues to drown us in cognitive dissonance.

  223. "Mandatory drug testing violates our 4th Amendment rights."

    Only if the State walks up to you and says "Hey, I want to test you for drug use."

    But if someone walks up to the State and says "Hey, give me some free money" then the State can demand that the person get tested for drug use.

    Kind of like you walking into an ER and demanding oxycontin, and the doctors there deciding to check whether you're just trying to get another fix.

  224. Gov. Scott Walker, Another BIG Government republican. Always prying into our lives.

  225. It is the way of the world. He who pays the piper calls the tune. If we want health care paid for by government, then elected officials who represent us get to dictate the terms of coverage.

  226. Well this is not health care paid for by government. It is a hidden subsidy given to the minimum wage bandit corporations by the GOP.
    The unspoken topic here is the idea that somehow the need for medicaid is caused by drug use. It is caused by the failure to pay a living wage or provide proper benefits. This was one of the feats of the first reagan admin where they created all sorts of laws to allow minimum wage bandit corporations to underpay and over work people while not giving the pay or benefits anyone working that hard deserves. The taxpayer subsidizes these bandits profit margins often creating the profit for corps on the decline.
    I suspect many of these corporations could not be in business at all without this taxpayer subsidy. Which by good capitalist Conservative rules they should not be except those rules aren't really meant to be applied to "us" are they now?

  227. As an African American who grew up poor and has had the benefit of medicaid during hard times in my life, I am proud to be a tax paying citizen and have the opportunity to pay it forward. I obtained a wonderful affordable 4 year CUNY education, and have a small consulting firm with my husband, and together we pay 5 figure taxes on a low 6 figure combined income and about $1000 a month together on insurance premiums, even though neither of us have any health problems or preexisting conditions, yet!
    That said, I have been drug tested for jobs. Typically you are given notice and I've known people who smoked marijuana to get around it with flushes. They typically smoked MJ and did not do hard drugs, and from what I understand, hard drugs leave your system in days. We don't have a mj epidemic in America, we have an opioid epidemic and in some places still a meth crisis. If the purpose of drug testing is to get people help, then by all means lets do it. Even if it's just a methadone program. It would also help to dispel the myth that drug addiction is mostly an affliction of minorities. Instead of worrying about offending individuals, the best solutions should be based on what will help the most people in an effective, but cost efficient way.

    Side note. When I was growing up in the South Bronx in the late 80's, 90's, it was not uncommon to see very nice cars, with well dressed, white drivers/passengers purchasing drugs.

  228. wcdessertgirl, thank you for your comment. As long as people believe that poverty and bad decisions are made only by those people (code for African American or others that aren't white, middle class, rich or whatever), they will favor as many punitive measures as possible to keep budgets low and cut programs. Until they are personally afflicted or affected they will not understand that most illnesses don't care who you are and that goes for addiction, mental illness, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other ills.

    Another side note: I've seen African American parents take more time and trouble with their children than the affluent white parents do in the village I live in. I've also experienced more acceptance from African Americans when it comes to my autistic brother than I have from our supposed peer group. There's no doubt about it that many self proclaimed liberal whites are anything but liberal when it comes to people who are different.

  229. The drug testing industry consumes millions of taxpayer dollars, mostly in support of the prison-industrial complex which costs us billions. The money could be used much more productively to address problems in our society.

  230. I do not see any problem with the idea of withholding government benefits, or making their acquisition more difficult, to those who have demonstrated their contempt for the legal system by engaging in illegal behavior on an ongoing fashion.

    While I personally favor the removal of all drug laws, until these substances are made legal those who violate existing law have made a choice and must pay the price for said choice.

  231. Sure. As long as we also do this for millionaires and those who receive massive tax breaks and the like. "Government benefits" don't come only in the form of welfare -- if we drug-tested the people and families who stand to benefit the most from the proposed Trumpcare tax cut, I'm sure we'd find plenty of folks who use drugs (given that drug use is fairly consistent across racial lines). Are we going to withhold the "government benefit" of these tax cuts?

  232. But they could, perhaps, be alcoholics--which is legal?

  233. Andrew - I would love to see that as well.