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Concerns Grow About Drug Testing TANF Recipients During Public Hearing

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Chip Ward

JACKSON, Miss. – A new law requiring people who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to complete a questionnaire and face the possibility of a drug test was delayed until there could be a public hearing about how it might affect the poor. That public meeting was held Tuesday in Jackson and community leaders along with TANF recipients voiced their concerns.

A big concern during the public hearing from speakers such as Eva Woodall of Cleveland Mississippi was that children could potentially be affected by an irresponsible caregiver.

The law also requires people that test positive for drugs to undergo two months of treatment. If they test positive a second time they lose TANF for good.

Another big concern was who does the cost of treatment fall on? If someone is on TANF, it is likely that they cannot afford to attend a drug treatment program. It is also wrong to assume that a TANF recipient is also on Medicaid.

Also State Representative Sherra Hillman Lane was concerned about the length of drug treatment, saying that research shows that proper healing from drug abuse takes 13 months in rehab.  “It just defies logic that we would think that this would provide a care just because we say it will without looking at the research involved,” said Hillman.

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