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    1 Dec 2016

    Drug-testing of welfare clients fails to yield any positive drug tests

    year-long pilot project to test welfare recipients for substance abuse yielded only one recipient identified for testing -- and that recipient had his or her case closed for other reasons before action was taken, according to a new report by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. 
     
    The project tested a new law passed in December 2014 allowing Michigan to drug-test welfare recipients suspected of substance abuse.
    DHHS conducted the pilot in Allegan, Clinton and Marquette counties between Oct. 1, 2015, and Sept. 30, 2016, the report said.
    Although a total of 443 people in those counties were either receiving or applied for cash assistance during those 12 months, previous court decisions limited the actual drug-testing to individuals who failed a substance-abuse screening test.
    The report said that 27 of the 443 people were identified as potential substance-abusers. Of those 27, 10 were already getting treatment through Community Mental Health, three had their cases closed for other reasons and 14 went through the screening test. 
    Of the 14 screened, one individual "was found by a clinician to have a reasonable suspicion of use of a controlled substance and required a substance use (drug) test," the report said.
    While that person agreed to a drug test, the report said, "their case closed for an unrelated reason prior to the submission of the test."
    The cost of the pilot was $700, not including "increased staffing, administrative costs, administrative hearings, and program changes to the electronic benefits application system Bridges," the report said.
    If a client had been found abusing drugs, the person would have been referred to local Community Mental Health agency for further substance use disorder treatment, the report said. "Most, if not all, of those individuals would have qualified for the treatment services with their Medicaid benefits."
    In all, about 6 percent of the welfare recipients or applicants in those three counties were referred to CMH's substance-abuse screening program or were already involved with CHM's substance-use treatment services.
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