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HB 949 Requires drug testing of certain Temporary Assistance for Needy Families applicants and recipients

Sponsor: Gatschenberger, Chuck (13) Proposed Effective Date: 08/28/2009

CoSponsor: Zerr, Anne (18) ……….etal. LR Number: 2326L.01I

Last Action: 03/06/2009 – Read Second Time (H)

HB949

Next Hearing: Hearing not scheduled

Calendar: Bill currently not on a calendar

HB 968 Modifies the requirements for food stamp eligibility

Sponsor: Nasheed, Jamilah (60) Proposed Effective Date: 08/28/2009

CoSponsor: Oxford, Jeanette Mott (59) ……….etal. LR Number: 1912L.01I

Last Action: 03/06/2009 – Read Second Time (H)

HB968

Next Hearing: Hearing not scheduled

Calendar: Bill currently not on a calendar

First, let’s take a look at the carrot in the form of HB 968:

FIRST REGULAR SESSION

HOUSE BILL NO. 968

95TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY

INTRODUCED BY REPRESENTATIVES NASHEED (Sponsor), OXFORD, CARTER AND WALTON GRAY (Co-sponsors).

1912L.01I                                                                                                                                                  D. ADAM CRUMBLISS, Chief Clerk

AN ACT

To amend chapter 208, RSMo, by adding thereto one new section relating to eligibility for food stamps.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the state of Missouri, as follows:

           Section A. Chapter 208, RSMo, is amended by adding thereto one new section, to be known as section 208.247, to read as follows:

           208.247. 1. Pursuant to the option granted the state by 21 U.S.C. Section 862a(d), an individual who has pled guilty to or is found guilty under federal or state law of a felony involving possession or use of a controlled substance shall be exempt from the prohibition contained in 21 U.S.C. Section 862a(a) against eligibility for food stamp program benefits for such convictions, if such person, as determined by the department:

           (1) Is currently successfully participating in a substance abuse treatment program approved by the division of alcohol and drug abuse within the department of mental health;

           (2) Is currently accepted for treatment in and participating in a substance abuse treatment program approved by the division of alcohol and drug abuse, but is subject to a waiting list to receive available treatment, and the individual remains enrolled in the treatment program and enters the treatment program at the first available opportunity;

           (3) Has satisfactorily completed a substance abuse treatment program approved by the division of alcohol and drug abuse;

           (4) Is determined by a division of alcohol and drug abuse certified treatment provider not to need substance abuse treatment; or

           (5) Is successfully complying with, or has already complied with, all obligations imposed by the court, the division of alcohol and drug abuse and the division of probation and parole.

           2. Eligibility based upon the factors in subsection 1 of this section shall be based upon documentary or other evidence satisfactory to the department of social services, and the applicant must meet all other factors for program eligibility.

           3. The department of social services, in consultation with the division of alcohol and drug abuse, shall promulgate rules to carry out the provisions of this section, including specifying criteria for determining active participation in and completion of a substance abuse treatment program.

[emphasis in original]

Okay. Get people in need of help some help without adding roadblocks to them succeeding in fixing their problem(s). Sounds reasonable and humane.

Now let’s look at the stick in HB 949:

FIRST REGULAR SESSION

HOUSE BILL NO. 949

95TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY

INTRODUCED BY REPRESENTATIVES GATSCHENBERGER (Sponsor), ZERR, COX, KINGERY, RIDDLE, ALLEN, DIECKHAUS, BROWN (149), WILSON (130), PRATT, DAY, BIVINS, DEEKEN, TILLEY, SMITH (14), NIEVES, SCHAD, SMITH (150), FAITH, WETER, LOEHNER, FLOOK, JONES (89), HOSKINS (121), ICET, SCHARNHORST, WOOD, LARGENT, BURLISON, GUERNSEY, BROWN (30), STREAM, SANDER, FLANIGAN, CUNNINGHAM, PARKINSON, ERVIN, HOBBS, FRANZ, NOLTE, McNARY, DUGGER, KOENIG, YATES AND DENISON (Co-sponsors).

2326L.01I                                                                                                                                                  D. ADAM CRUMBLISS, Chief Clerk

AN ACT

To amend chapter 208, RSMo, by adding thereto one new section relating to illegal drug use of applicants and recipients of temporary assistance for needy families benefits.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the state of Missouri, as follows:

           Section A. Chapter 208, RSMo, is amended by adding thereto one new section, to be known as section 208.027, to read as follows:

           208.027. 1. The department of social services shall develop a program to test applicants or recipients, who are otherwise eligible for temporary assistance for needy families benefits under this chapter, for the use of a controlled substance whenever a case worker of an applicant or recipient believes, based on reasonable suspicion, that such applicant or recipient engages in illegal use of controlled substances. Any applicant or recipient who is found to have tested positive for the use of a controlled substance, which was not prescribed for such applicant or recipient by a licensed health care provider, shall, after an administrative hearing conducted by the department under the provisions of chapter 536, RSMo, be declared ineligible for temporary assistance for needy families benefits for a period of three years from the date of the administrative hearing decision. The department shall refer an applicant or recipient who tested positive for the use of a controlled substance under this section to an appropriate substance abuse treatment program approved by the division of alcohol and drug abuse within the department of mental health.

           2. If a parent is deemed ineligible for temporary assistance for needy families benefits due to the failure of a drug test under this section, his or her dependent child’s eligibility for such benefits shall not be affected and an appropriate protective payee may be established for the benefit of the child. If the parent refuses to cooperate in establishing an appropriate protective payee for the child, the department shall appoint one.

           3. The department of soc
ial services shall promulgate rules to develop the provisions of this section. Any rule or portion of a rule, as that term is defined in section 536.010, RSMo, that is created under the authority delegated in this section shall become effective only if it complies with and is subject to all of the provisions of chapter 536, RSMo, and, if applicable, section 536.028, RSMo. This section and chapter 536, RSMo, are nonseverable and if any of the powers vested with the general assembly pursuant to chapter 536, RSMo, to review, to delay the effective date, or to disapprove and annul a rule are subsequently held unconstitutional, then the grant of rulemaking authority and any rule proposed or adopted after August 28, 2009, shall be invalid and void.

[emphasis in original]

…Any applicant or recipient who is found to have tested positive for the use of a controlled substance, which was not prescribed for such applicant or recipient by a licensed health care provider, shall, after an administrative hearing conducted by the department under the provisions of chapter 536, RSMo, be declared ineligible for temporary assistance for needy families benefits for a period of three years from the date of the administrative hearing decision. …

Three years. This is temporary assistance. People who are in immediate need and have a substance abuse problem could actually use help in the form of substance abuse counseling, finding a job, getting housing, and help putting food on the table. In the long run that will save society a lot of money. Draconian punishments doen’t help solve the problem.

A question for the sponsor and co-sponsors of this bill: Have you ever illegally used a controlled substance? Just asking.

Have you noticed the parties who’ve sponsored or co-sponsored these different bills? Interesting.

Let’s see what the National Institute on Drug Abuse has to say on the subject:

…Drug addiction is a complex but treatable disease. It is characterized by compulsive drug craving, seeking, and use that persist even in the face of severe adverse consequences. For many people, drug abuse becomes chronic, with relapses possible even after long periods of abstinence. In fact, relapse to drug abuse occurs at rates similar to those for other well-characterized, chronic medical illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma. As a chronic, recurring illness, addiction may require repeated episodes of treatment before sustained abstinence is achieved. Through treatment tailored to individual needs, people with drug addiction can recover and lead productive lives.

The ultimate goal of drug addiction treatment is to enable an individual to achieve lasting abstinence, but the immediate goals are to reduce drug abuse, improve the patient’s ability to function, and minimize the medical and social complications of drug abuse and addiction. Like people with diabetes or heart disease, people in treatment for drug addiction will also need to change their behavior to adopt a more healthful lifestyle.

In 2006, 23.6 million persons aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem (9.6 percent of the persons aged 12 or older). Of these, 2.5 million (10.8 percent of those who needed treatment) received treatment at a specialty facility. Thus, 21.2 million persons (8.6 percent of the population aged 12 or older) needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem but did not receive it. These estimates are similar to the estimates for 2005.*

Untreated substance abuse and addiction add significant costs to families and communities, including those related to violence and property crimes, prison expenses, court and criminal costs, emergency room visits, healthcare utilization, child abuse and neglect, lost child support, foster care and welfare costs, reduced productivity, and unemployment.

The cost to society of illicit drug abuse alone is $181 billion annually.1 When combined with alcohol and tobacco costs, they exceed $500 billion including healthcare, criminal justice, and lost productivity.2,3 Successful drug abuse treatment can help reduce these costs in addition to crime, and the spread of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases. It is estimated that for every dollar spent on addiction treatment programs, there is a $4 to $7 reduction in the cost of drug-related crimes. With some outpatient programs, total savings can exceed costs by a ratio of 12:1

[emphasis added]

Let’s look at a scientific study, again from NIDA:

…Day Treatment With Abstinence Contingencies and Vouchers was developed to treat homeless crack addicts. For the first 2 months, participants must spend 5.5 hours daily in the program, which provides lunch and transportation to and from shelters. Interventions include individual assessment and goal setting, individual and group counseling, multiple psychoeducational groups (for example, didactic groups on community resources, housing, cocaine, and HIV/AIDS prevention; establishing and reviewing personal rehabilitation goals; relapse prevention; weekend planning), and patient-governed community meetings during which patients review contract goals and provide support and encouragement to each other. Individual counseling occurs once a week, and group therapy sessions are held three times a week. After 2 months of day treatment and at least 2 weeks of abstinence, participants graduate to a 4-month work component that pays wages that can be used to rent inexpensive, drug-free housing. A voucher system also rewards drug-free related social and recreational activities.

This innovative day treatment was compared with treatment consisting of twice-weekly individual counseling and 12-step groups, medical examinations and treatment, and referral to community resources for housing and vocational services. Innovative day treatment followed by work and housing dependent upon drug abstinence had a more positive effect on alcohol use, cocaine use, and days homeless.

References:

Milby, J.B.; Schumacher, J.E.; Raczynski, J.M.; Caldwell, E.; Engle, M.; Michael, M.; and Carr, J. Sufficient conditions for effective treatment of substance abusing homeless. Drug & Alcohol Dependence 43: 39-47, 1996.

Milby, J.B.; Schumacher, J.E.; McNamara, C.; Wallace, D.; McGill, T.; Stange, D.; and Michael, M. Abstinence contingent housing enhances day treatment for homeless cocaine abusers. National Institute on Drug Abuse Research Monograph Series 174, Problems of Drug Dependence: Proceedings of the 58th Annual Scientific Meeting. The College on Problems of Drug Dependence, Inc., 1996.

[emphasis added]

Ah, the difference is that there needs to be a comprehensive approach. You think? It would appear that one shouldn’t punitively cut someone off from help before they get into treatment.