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Drug testing of welfare applicants is costing state money, but applications drop

The New York Times  reports today on the trend to drug test welfare recipients, and notes that since July, 7,030 passed, 32 failed and 1,597 did not provide results, according to the state records. The tests have had a net cost to the state but the state has also seen a decline in the number of applicants appears.

Derek Newton of the ACLU calls it a ".4% fail rate." From his statement: "Based on the NYT estimate "that the average temporary assistance applicant receives $253 monthly for less than five months, the state has saved $40,480 in denied benefits due to drug testing. With an average test cost of about $35, the state reimbursed $246,050 for the tests of those who passed. The net loss to the state of $200,000 since July does not include substantial administrative or legal costs. 

Since the state requires applicants to pay for tests in advance and testing facilities are not available in every community, it’s impossible to know how many of the 1,597 applicants who did not take the test would have passed or failed or would have lost eligibility otherwise. There are at least 13 reasons other than fear of failure why someone who is eligible for temporary assistance may not complete a drug test."