In addition to approving the Governor's recommendation to seek a waiver from the federal government to allow DHS to drug screen childless adults on BaderCare, the JFC also required the Department to (1) provide the committee with a summary of the provisions of the proposed waiver and estimates of the fiscal effect of that proposed waiver, and (2) if the federal government approves the waiver to permit drug testing, and prior to implementing that policy, to submit a report to the JFC that summarizes the provisions and estimates the fiscal effect of the approved waiver.
We have covered the issue of drug testing participants in public benefit programs at length on our budget site. Many advocates express skepticism that this approach will actually provide people with substance abuse disorders with the help that they need to treat their addictions. Rather, advocates fear that this approach will unnecessarily stigmatize lower-income people who need BadgerCare in order to access vital health care services. For instance, advocates for people with disabilities have expressed significant concerns about the affect this proposal could have on childless adults who rely on BadgerCare and have simultaneous mental illness and substance abuse disorder diagnoses. Federal courts have also ruled that similar proposals to drug test public benefit recipients in other states are unconstitutional.
The full Department of Health Services budget is up for debate and executive action in the JFC tomorrow, including votes about the Governor's other proposed changes to BadgerCare coverage for childless adults, so we will have many more updates soon to follow.