JACKSON, Miss. – Two of Mississippi’s 3,656 Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF )applicants have tested positive for illegal drugs. Drug tests were administered to at least 38 applicants after they were screened as part a new law that went into effect in August.
While the miniscule number of those who tested positive for drugs may indicate a waste of resources, the law’s author, State Representative Sam Mims, disagrees.
“We were able to help those two people. Medicaid is paying for the consoling for these two people to get help. Especially during the holiday season, if we can help these two people become better citizens, become better parents, productive citizens where they are getting out of this system of welfare, getting out of this system of Medicaid and providing for themselves, that’s what we want.”
The individuals who test positive will undergo two months of counseling and will not lose their TANF benefits during counseling. If they test positive again they will lose benefits.
During a hearing in July before the law went into effect State Representative Sherra Hillman Lane indicated that she was concerned about the length of the consoling given to those who were found to have drug problems, saying that research shows that proper healing from drug abuse takes 13 plus months of rehabilitation.