Some welfare recipients in Indiana would face drug testing and the possible loss of benefits, if they fail to stick to treatment, under a proposal that has been approved by the Indiana House.
The House voted 78-17 on Monday, in House Bill 1483, which is now headed to the Senate, to require all applicants for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to complete a written screening test for possible drug abuse problems. The bill is part of a growing nationwide movement among states to make sure that those who receive benefits don’t spend them on drugs.
Rep. Jud McMillin, the Brookville Republican who authored the bill said, “What we’re trying to do is give somebody a hand up instead of a handout.”
Under this new bill, people who receive Temporary Assistance to Needy Families would have to take a written test to screen people for potential drug use. Anyone failing that test would then have to take part in a treatment program to continue receiving benefit payments.
Those who pass the test continue to receive benefits. Those who fail the first time keep their benefits but must enter a treatment program at their own cost. McMillin said it could be anything from one held at a church to in-patient treatment at a facility.
He said Medicaid and other government programs also are available to help cover the cost of in-patient treatment.
Those in treatment who test clean on two consecutive drug tests continue to receive benefits. If they are unable to stay off drugs for four months, he said, they will lose benefits for three months. Then they can reapply and can, if a drug test shows they are no longer using narcotics, get benefits again.
“We are trying to recognize that people need help,” McMillin said, but added: “You can only help those who help themselves, and there has to be a modicum of individual responsibility and accountability.”
The Republican-dominated House last week rejected efforts by Democrats to have legislators face the same testing.
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