It looks like Mississippi is taking the right steps to reducing fraud when it comes to government assistance. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) will now require new applicants to submit a questionnaire that will evaluate the likelihood of substance abuse.
Residents who apply for this temporary assistance from the state will have to submit to drug testing if the state deems they are likely substance abusers from this questionnaire. Testing positive once would require a TANF recipient to undergo treatment for substance abuse. For testing positive a second time, the recipient would be kicked out of the program for 90 days. A third positive result would remove the recipient for up to a year.
Governor Bryant said, “The TANF program is a safety net for families in need, and adding this screening process will aid adults who are trapped in a dependency lifestyle so they can better provide for their children.” The state will be using federal funds earmarked for TANF to administer the questionnaires and testing. They estimate the cost of testing will be only $36,000 each year.
There are currently only 9 other states that have passed legislation requiring TANF applicants to be screened for drugs. And there are at least 24 more that are looking into this type of legislation too.
This seems like a great way for the state to spend a minimal amount in order to save the system a lot of money. What many people will think here is how Republicans hate poor people and how we don’t want to help them, but in all reality we want to help those who really need it and aren’t abusing the system. The governor of Mississippi and his legislature have figured out a way to do this, and I say “kudos” to them!