The 2010 Unemployment Extension Bill still sits stagnate in the Senate this week as many of the unemployed Americans are in a financial crisis. Senator Hatch’s proposed amendment of drug testing the recipients of unemployment benefits brings the extension even further away from being passed. The debate for this amendment could go on for quite some time. This appears to be the Senator’s answer to saving money and saving souls.
Senator Hatch purposed this amendment that would mandate drug testing for the unemployment and welfare recipients. They would need to pass this test to receive their funds, according to CBS News. This amendment, according to Hatch, would save the money that the government would have handed out to drug abusers. Apparently Hatch believes that the majority of the unemployed do drugs. There is a small group that may spend their money on drugs and they are the same group that probably spent their pay checks on drugs.
In order to qualify for unemployment you need to meet the criteria of having worked. If you did not work, or work for the required amount of time, you will not qualify to receive unemployment benefits. Unemployment compensation is paid into by the workers who are applying for it. If the money is rightfully theirs, it should be their own business on what the money is spent on. I do not agree that with the people that may use their unemployment benefits, or any money for that fact on drugs. The point being that if a person qualifies for the benefits due to their work history then they should receive the funds without being tested for drugs.
Hatch believes that this drug testing amendment will also save souls, the people who are addicted to drugs. His theory is that when a drug abuser does not pass the test, they do not get the money from unemployment benefits and will be forced to work on their addictions and get help. Does Senator Hatch realize what happens when many of the hard core drug addicted population cannot get money for buying drugs? They steal, rob, and mug people for it. Trying to tie in a drug testing program with unemployment to save drug abusers is ludicrous. This is not where the majority of the drug using population is found.
Hatch claims that money will be saved by drug testing as he continues pushing for this amendment. The government will save nothing and spend an astronomical amount of money to get back very few positive drug tests. There are a few things that Hatch might not have taken into consideration when he purposed this drug testing.
Drug tests are not an exact science where there is a magic solution to catch every drug the user has on board.. You need different types of testing for the different types of drugs. To blanket a drug test for the many different abused illegal drugs will eventually cost more per person than many are receiving in benefits.
Drug tests are done by testing a urine sample. The drugs that are commonly abused will stay in your system for 2-3 days only, according to Health Tests Direct. Drug users are up on this information and if they know they will be subjected to a drug test when it comes time to pick up their unemployment check, they will abstain from drugs for the 2-3 days. This allows them to go on the other 28 days of the month doing their drugs. People who are very involved in doing drugs will sneak in a “clean urine specimen” from a friend or family member for their drug test. A clean urine specimen is from a person that does not do drugs. This is another way that can be used to get around the drug testing.
The Department of Health and Human Services has tested many of the agents sold today to “beat a drug test” and have found that some do work. The agents are consumed orally and mask the drug or speed up the elimination of drugs from your system. This is another way drug abusers will use to beat the system.
The element of surprise is what is needed to operate a drug testing system. People can prepare for a scheduled drug test which will defeat the purpose. How do you set up a drug test for the people who are collecting unemployment? Go to their homes unannounced and invade their privacy even more?
Senator Hatch did not take into consideration the cost of these drug tests, including setting up the clinic to do the testing. Each drug test would be costly due to the vast amount of drugs you would need to test for. The cost would be a waste of taxpayers money for the little bit of money saved on the small group of people who do not pass and not do not collect their funds.
Drug testing will pick up the illegal drug of heroin as an opiate. The legally prescribed pain killers are opiates also and the drug test will not differentiate between the two. For that reason many drug users will shop around for a doctor to prescribe an opiate pain killer to them. They will go to the doctor with a false claim of “being in pain” and once getting the prescription they have a legitimate reason for not passing the drug test. These drug users can now use an illegal opiate drug because they have a prescription for drug that would excuse them from a positive test.
The idea of drug testing people on public assistant comes with too many obstacles and a very large price tag that will end up being a waste of taxpayers money. This will end up costing more in the long run than passing the unemployment extension bill without the amendment. Not to mention the embarrassment to the majority of people collecting unemployment who are hard working Americans that are out of work through no fault of their own. This will also work in putting a stigma on the unemployed as being drug abusers.
References: CBS News, Health Tests Direct, Department of Health and Human Services