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Monday, December 31, 2012

Let there be drug testing — for all

Posted By on Mon, Dec 31, 2012 at 7:21 AM

Hah. I've already made this suggestion for Arkansas, where Republicans are slavering to emulate other Republican-controlled legislatures and institute drug-testing for welfare moochers.

From Huffington Post:

A Republican member of the Indiana General Assembly withdrew his bill to create a pilot program for drug testing welfare applicants Friday after one of his Democratic colleagues amended the measure to require drug testing for lawmakers.

"There was an amendment offered today that required drug testing for legislators as well and it passed, which led me to have to then withdraw the bill," said Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville), sponsor of the original welfare drug testing bill.

The Supreme Court ruled drug testing for political candidates unconstitutional in 1997, striking down a Georgia law. McMillin said he withdrew his bill so he could reintroduce it on Monday with a lawmaker drug testing provision that would pass constitutional muster.

"I've only withdrawn it temporarily," he told HuffPost, stressing he carefully crafted his original bill so that it could survive a legal challenge. Last year a federal judge, citing the Constitution's ban on unreasonable search and seizure, struck down a Florida law that required blanket drug testing of everyone who applied for welfare.

McMillin's bill would overcome constitutional problems, he said, by setting up a tiered screening scheme in which people can opt-out of random testing. Those who decline random tests would only be screened if they arouse "reasonable suspicion," either by their demeanor, by being convicted of a crime, or by missing appointments required by the welfare office.

Drug-testing is an empty gimmick, more beat-up-on-the-poor demagoguery from a party that never tires of the ploy. Drug testing of welfare recipients cost more money than it saved in Florida, as has been widely noted. In Arkansas, Republicans are covering by saying they intend to use drug-testing to identify people who need treatment and rehabilitation. If you think they really mean that — that they are prepared to pay the additional sums necessary in Medicaid to cover the cost of comprehensive drug rehab for all in need — I have a red-white-and-blue Broadway bridge to sell you.

The ugly truth is that the biggest welfare fraud isn't perpetrated by a poor sick person cadging some free ER treatment when he still has a few dollars in their checking account. It's perpetrated by unscrupulous health care providers, drug companies and insurers with schemes for inflating costs by the millions to enrich themselves. It is also perpetrated by unscrupulous family members who beggar the elderly by taking their assets so they may qualify for free nursing home care. And, in the drug realm, I'd be willing to bet you'd find the abuse rate as high or higher among those with the readiest access to drugs — health care professionals, such as the medical clinic director busted just the other day.

But let us not confused the faith-based Republican legislator with facts. Poor people are unworthy moochers looking for a fix or a handout. No expense or punishment is too great for them. That is all they know and all they need to know.

Search for fraud among doctors or hospitals? Search for drug abusers among legislators? These would be invasive and offensive actions against a much higher-class group of people.

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