Walker pushes ahead with expensive drug testing


MADISON- Despite setbacks with his other health proposals, Governor Walker is moving forward with his goal of drug testing BadgerCare recipients. Walker officially requested that the Trump administration approve his health plan on Wednesday. Another program, Wisconsin Works already drug tests some participants, and has tested roughly 1,900 people. Data from March shows that of the 1,900 screened, only nine have tested positive for drugs and been referred treatment. None of those nine successfully completed treatment. It is unclear how Walker’s proposal would improve on that low success rate or make drug testing worth more than it costs.

Jason Stein at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

Walker said his proposals only apply to able-bodied adults and offer training for the jobless and treatment for those who are on drugs. Critics say they will cost taxpayers more than they save, trigger costly lawsuits and fail to boost the state’s economy the way other investments might.

Republicans on the Legislature’s budget committee approved the proposal last month on a party-line vote, so a go-ahead from the Trump administration is one of the few remaining hurdles to putting the measure into practice.

State Rep. Jimmy Anderson (D-Fitchburg) said the state doesn’t require business owners to take drug tests to get state help and shouldn’t make needy residents do so either.

Democrats have pointed to the drug testing already happening in Wisconsin Works, or W-2, which aims to move poor people into jobs. As of March, about 1,900 W-2 participants had been screened for drugs, with only nine of those — less than one-half of 1% — referred for treatment and none successfully completing it, according to the Legislature’s nonpartisan budget office.

“It’s a huge taxpayer waste and it’s also an unconstitutional intrusion into people’s privacy,” Anderson said.

Read more at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.