States Require Drug Testing for Benefit Recipients

As only the latest indication of how drug testing is becoming more widespread when it comes to receiving state benefits, President Donald Trump signed legislation at the end of March allowing states to drug test applicants for unemployment benefits. (A previous Labor Department rule allowed for testing only those whose regular jobs required drug screenings.)

The rationale behind the recent legislation is to help keep those receiving unemployment benefits job ready, and to avoid fostering a system that could leave individuals dependent on and addicted to drugs. Supporters of the new laws also want to ensure that tax dollars are being properly spent in an era of continued fiscal restraints.

In addition to unemployment applicants, states are also considering legislation related to drug testing for benefits ranging from public assistance and food stamps to home heating assistance. In 2017, some 20 states are actively pursuing legislation, and at least 15 states have passed laws with regard to drug testing public assistance applicants and/or recipients.

The article Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients and Public Assistance on the website of the National Conference of State Legislatures offers a detailed historical overview of the growing momentum toward drug testing.

Efficiency and Affordability of Drug Screening

A 2015 study by the University of California at Berkeley found that the states and federal government spend roughly $153 billion a year on various assistance programs, including cash assistance and food stamps. In 2012, CNN Money found that unemployment benefits cost roughly $520 billion each year.

With over 67 million Americans receiving welfare alone, as more states join the list of those requiring drug screening for benefits, the existing infrastructure of testing labs is sure to come under stress, and new laboratories will be brought online.

In order to meet the intent of the new laws without adding to the burdensome costs of program administration, drug testing protocols must be fast, affordable, and reliable.

It’s a big challenge, especially since drug testing laboratories must undergo rigorous accreditation, including acquiring federally required CLIA and COLA certifications. Of course, even accredited labs may have outdated, aging equipment which can slow the process and increase its expense.

Establishing High Quality Labs

When it comes to people receiving benefits for state programs as critical as unemployment and public assistance, there can be little margin for error or delay. Screenings must be accurate and confidential, maintaining the dignity of the working poor while at the same time identifying those who need help with problems of addiction.

At Drug Testing Program Management, we’re experienced at providing the highest quality, turnkey solutions when it comes to lab setup, supply, and management.

DTPM serves over 450 labs in 45 states and has been a trusted total solutions provider since 1993. Our clients include Treatment Centers, Drug Courts, Reference Labs, and Physician’s Offices. We specialize in laboratory setup, staffing, procedures, ongoing supply and management, productivity, cost-efficiency, and regulatory compliance.

Interested in learning more? Give DTPM a call at 256-600-1111 today.