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Pennsylvania Introduces New Program to Drug-Test Some Welfare Recipients


Officials in Pennsylvania are introducing a new drug testing program for certain welfare recipients. Pennsylvania’s program will randomly test those with a felony drug conviction within the past five years, and those on probation for such crimes. A program introduced in Florida last year to test all welfare recipients was blocked by a federal judge.

The Pennsylvania program is being piloted in one county, and could expand statewide this summer if it is shown to be cost effective, Fox News reports.

“One of the biggest suggestions I hear from constituents at the numerous town hall meetings I regularly hold is that we need to drug test welfare beneficiaries,” State Senator David Argall, who supports the measure, said in a statement. “With over $10 billion going to the Department of Public Welfare, this initiative seeks to stop the abuse within our welfare system.”

The National Conference of State Legislatures says at least 36 states put forth proposals last year around drug testing of welfare and foods stamps. In addition to Florida, Arizona and Missouri also passed legislation. The measures in those two states were tailored more narrowly, the article notes.

Opponents of measures to require drug testing for welfare recipients say they are unfair, and are not cost effective.

18 Responses to this article

  1. becca / July 22, 2014 at 12:50 am

    I just want to say that in theory drug testing ALL recipients sounds great, but to actually play out… It would most likely prove inaccurate and not cost effective. Its not very hard for these people to pass a drug test even when they are dirty. Look at the back of any “High Times” magazine and you’ll see the newest gimmicks to use or go to GNC and buy some crazy detox rememdy or they just find someone else to give them clean urine and then take extreme measures to smuggle it in. The only accurate way to test them is through blood tests and that would cost more money than it may save us. I’m glad that they are at least testing those that have recently been in trouble. Statistics show that sooner or later, all addicts and alcoholics have a run in with the law so hopefully that helps get them into this category of people. If we can even just find a way to keep these people off drugs for a consecutive 6 months, their chances of recovery almost double! Something needs to be done and though this may serve as very little improvement, at least its a step in the right direction!

  2. John / June 27, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Its about time the government took action against this and those out there that are against this well only thing I can say is shame on you cause you must be one of those addicts that my working money is paying for
    Way to go Pa!

  3. Kelly / June 19, 2014 at 11:34 am

    You collect welfare and unemployment because you “can’t” find a job and yet you can’t get a job because you can’t pass a drug test so you continue to collect welfare and unemployment! “Unfair….not cost effective.”, yea sure!

  4. Joe / June 19, 2014 at 12:14 am

    I work my butt off everyday, but am still poor. I get up at 5am and get home from work at 7pm. When I get home, there are always a bunch of welfare recipients hanging out, swimming, smoking cigarettes & in my way of pulling into my driveway. These people get high every day. They smoke pot, take large doses of percocets, take molly, suboxine, snort coke, etc. and are drinking beer every day. Some have the nerve to ask to borrow money from me, then get mad when a tell them I am broke. It is the truth. I had to pass a drug test before getting hired, and we have random drug tests scheduled by my employer. These so called neighbors never look for a job. Now my money is contributed to this?! Welfare should be more strict than employers since the money, food stamps, medical assistance, WIC, whatever is handed to them. I can’t even afford to eat most of the time. A hair cut puts a hole in my pocket.
    The least our politicians can do is vote for drug test prior to receiving assistance and also randomly test while receiving this. I think that they should be forced to get a job after a point in time after receiving assistance or else cut them off. More over, there are people I know that need welfare assistance that are declined or can’t receive a decent amount. Why does this happen?! Hey, make jobs working for welfare by having these people investigate the recipients. Geez!

  5. Leroy / June 18, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    I have to be drug tested to get a job , they need to also if they want to get free money!!!! It’s abused!!!

  6. tothepoint / June 18, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    I completely agree with people getting drug tested.but instead of only a selective few it should be everyone upon request of welfare. We as the people who work for our money should most definitely have a say in this due to the simple fact that its the money out of our pay checks that they are giving away to them just tosit on their butt yes some people need the help because of medical l

  7. HardWorkerinPA / June 18, 2014 at 10:02 am

    I think everyone receiving welfare should be drug screened. I am drug screened at my job to earn my money so why shouldn’t they be also? Most of them are using drugs and partying while collecting money that us working people are paying for!!

  8. PhillyBoobie / June 17, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    With Philly schools closing at a staggering rate, taxes going up, and so many other public service deficits, this should be at the bottom of the list. If these people are cut off of welfare the crime rate and welfare fraud rate will skyrocket. I was under the impression that felons were unable to collect welfare. So how will they only test those with records of those types of crimes? And I’ve been hearing news of PA legalizing marijuana, so what will they test for?

    • becca / July 22, 2014 at 1:01 am

      hi! I just wanted to say that yes, felons can definitely receive welfare benefits in PA. That may vary with other states though. I agree with this not being top priority but the welfare system does need some kind of reform. You made a very valid point (I don’t know why it never crossed my mind LOL) crime would/will absolutely go up if we remove welfare from these people. Plus, what about their kids? Why should they suffer anymore than they already do because their parents are drug addicts. I’d like to say just stop cash payments but allow them food stamps, but they’d just turn around and sell the food stamps. I don’t judge or attack these people. I’ve worked with many of them and sympathize with addictions. I’m in school for social work now and one option I brought up about this topic (since it seems EVERYONE is talking about it) is maybe do the food stamp program the way the do WIC vouchers. Only allow the vouchers to be cashed by the person with a matching ID and put a little but if restriction on what they can buy. Not too much cuz I support freedom of choice, but enough to ensure that the kids are getting more that cookies and chips and hotdogs every day u know?

  9. Matt / June 17, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    Being a drug addict is a choice not an illness. You make a bad choice you and all your loved ones suffer. Just like military one bad choice or decision puts your whole squad in danger. You do the crime everyone does the time. Good honest people don’t deserve the burden of everyone else. My hard earned money should be my money. Why should people getting free assistance be able to enjoy a better lifestyle than a hard working set of parents and their children. It is absolutely unfair.

  10. Kat / June 17, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    It about time…but I think everyone should be tested… I have to pass a drug test to work…so what is the difference for welfare….if they are doing nothing wrong…what is the big deal?? If I have to pee to put money in the welfare system then they should have to pee to receive it..plain and simple…no rights are being violated….

  11. Avatar of Bobby
    Bobby / March 12, 2013 at 9:02 am

    I don’t see anything wrong with it, as long as they stipulate that anyone with positive results have to attend intensive outpatient therapy and if that doesnt work then detox and inpatient for awhile and then if they keep using take them off welfare, but just don’t kick people to the curb because they have a disease.

    • Alix / June 18, 2014 at 12:19 pm

      And at whose cost do you think these “therapies” will be paid for? More money taken from the people who work, for the people who don’t.

    • Maximus lowenstien / June 19, 2014 at 12:13 am

      If they are an addict i don’t give a damn let them OD in a damn ditch. I essentially paid for their dumbass to get high I want them off welfare I don’t care if they get clean or not. Everything you do is a choice. I chose to stay in school and get a good job and not smoke crack. They chose to become a junky. Now let them get their self out of it. I’ll be damned if I’m gonna pay for that. One less pheen on the street.

  12. Avatar of Dana
    Dana / February 29, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    Another example of our Politicians beings “out of touch”. Drug testing for Welfare will not prove Welfare abuse or fraud.

  13. Avatar of Rob Fleming
    Rob Fleming / February 15, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Pennsylvanians might be better off, and fewer of them would become welfare recipients, if EVERY citizen got drug tests as a matter of right, just as they now get routinely tested for high blood pressure.

  14. billinsandiego / February 10, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    As long as myths regarding who are using illicit drugs contnue we will never develop effective drug abuse prevention programs. These kinds of programs are “popular” becase they serve the myth that poor people are drug users. The opposite is true and all those who really work in the alcohol and other drug field know it. But the politicians can get votes if they enact laws that curry favor with the larger population, even if those laws do not make any sense whatsoever. Drug testing welfare recipients only adds more humiliation to those who have found themselves destitute and need to feed, clothe, and house their children. Most welfare recipents get off welfare within a year if they can work and employment levels are reasonably low.

    • becca / July 22, 2014 at 1:13 am

      So true! Drug addiction does not discriminate! People of all social classes use them. Even doctors and lawyers! I’d love to see what percentage of the taxes taken out of a persons paycheck actually goes toward welfare recipients. I don’t know why people say “why should they live better than me!?”. Do you even have any clue what these people are given to live on!? There’s nothing lavish about it! Yes there’s the few who sell drugs and have 5 kids and collect benefits on top of that but that’s not everyone. People that sell drugs are more if a problem in the welfare system than people that do them. Still, politicians are crooked as hell these days and if you really believe that that much of your hard earned money goes to welfar alone, you need to reconsider. And anyone that says addiction is a choice, I pray to God you never have to experience what its like to make that ” choice “. Yes it starts out as a few bad decisions but it turns into an uncontrollable urge. That lifestyle is all that some of these people have known. Maybe they didn’t have anyone in their life to intervene or set then straight. I’m not just defending addicts here, I just don’t like people attacking any population and making them feel less than. Its the same as prejudice or discrimination. We don’t know what its likw for that person unless we’ve walked a mike in their shoes.

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