House Bill 208, which proposes the drug screening, was introduced Jan. 7 by state Rep. Lonnie Napier, R-Lancaster, left. "I'm not a hard-hearted guy," he told the Lexington Herald-Leader's Jack Brammer. "I believe there is a need for public assistance for those who need it, but I understand some are using these funds to buy drugs."
Napier said he wants the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services to do random drug and urine testing for any Kentucky resident over the age of 17 who gets Medicaid, food stamps or welfare benefits. Those failing the test would lose their benefits until they passed drug testing at a later date.
The cost of the proposal is unknown. Napier said there are more than 600,000 Kentucky adults on welfare, and a drug test costs about $30, resulting in a $18 million price tag, plus the likely larger cost of expanding drug treatment programs -- a point made by conservative WHAS Radio talk-show host Mandy Connell in opposing the bill this morning.
Sheila Schuster, who helps advocate for disabled Kentuckians, said the bill "fans the flames of people who misunderstand the plight of those who receive assistance and would put more negative connotation on them." (Read more)