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State To Begin Million-Dollar Drug Testing Program For Welfare Recipients

Kansas is set to begin a drug testing program next year for some welfare recipients.

The state's program is similar to one in Missouri. After eight months, and 636 drug test requests, Missouri's program this year cost nearly $500,000 and found 20 people who tested positive.

Like Missouri, Kansas will test welfare recipients who are suspected of drug use, sometimes flagged by tests or a questionnaire.

The Kansas law cuts off benefits for welfare recipients who are reasonably suspected of drug use and test positive.

The benefits can be restored when a recipient completes a drug treatment and job skills program paid for with federal welfare funds.

A second failed test results in a year long loss of benefits, while a third positive test results in losing benefits permanently.

Kansas estimates the program will cost nearly $1 million to implement, including about $600,000 for one-time computer system upgrades.

And it projects the program it will save about $700,000 by temporarily or permanently denying assistance to those who fail the test.

Kansas Senator Jeff King, who authored the state's testing plan, says some people will not apply for benefits if they think they will test positive.

He says that should be considered in evaluating any drug testing plan.