Alabama Lawmakers Debate Drug Testing for Medicaid Recipients
Alabama Senate Bill Number 26, filed by Republican Senator Dick Brewbaker would require that all Medicaid recipients receive drug testing in order to receive benefits. Lawmakers supporting the bill say that statistics show the number of drug abusers receiving Medicaid in Alabama has skyrocketed in recent years. They estimate that taxpayers have wasted millions of dollars paying the health care costs of these people who are damaging themselves by abusing drugs.
Senator Arthur Orr, one of the proponents of the bill, was quoted as saying, “If you want to use drugs and you want the taxpayer to pick up the tab on your health care, if this bill passes, forget about it. If I’m going to use illegal drugs that are going to hurt myself, why ask taxpayers to fund my medical care.”
Similar bills have been attempted in other Southern states, but have failed in part because they struck not only at medical benefits but food stamps and unemployment as well.
While this bill does impose a certain measure of justice, lawmakers would be wise to also focus on how to help Alabama drug rehabs expand enough to deal with the rising drug problem in the state. Nationally, only about one person in ten finds the Montgomery, Alabama drug rehab they need, leaving nearly 100,000 without help.
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