Editorial: Gov. Walker might Drug Test the Poor


Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February.

Susan Walsh/Associated Press

As he prepares to run for a third term, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, ever the devotee of low-road, right-wing politicking, will be hoping the Trump administration will allow his state to be the first from the nation to mandate the drug screening of childless individuals who apply for Medicaid help.

“the item borders on immoral,” Lena Taylor, a Democratic state senator, warned, accusing Mr. Walker of indulging in a “meaningless contest to see how cruel as well as discriminatory we can be to the poor.”

Across the aisle, Senator Leah Vukmir defended Mr. Walker’s draconian initiative as the item advanced last week from the Republican-controlled Legislature. “We know how to take care of our own,” she declared.

After failing on the national stage from the 2015-16 Republican primary jamboree, Mr. Walker has doubled down on his ideological roots back home. He will be calling for drug testing of not only Medicaid applicants yet also some food stamp applicants, so as to make welfare a “trampoline, not a hammock.” Fourteen additional states have limited drug testing for some state welfare benefits. Mr. Walker, ignoring warnings in which the courts are likely to find his goal unconstitutional, nevertheless wants to play the pioneer in forcing drug tests on people applying for Medicaid.

The politics of sloganeering in which blames the poor for being poor did not get far with welfare officials from the Obama administration, who cautioned in which the Walker initiatives violated federal law. yet Mr. Walker obviously sees better prospects in trying again with the Trump administration. If he succeeds, mandatory drug testing for Medicaid enrollment might affect an estimated 148,000 of the 1.2 million people receiving state health care support. They are either totally impoverished or members of the working poor earning less than $12,060 a year. Refusal to be tested might result in denial of health care for six months, with repeated state confrontations likely to follow.

If the governor succeeds in appealing to the administration for permission to carry out his scheme, additional conservative states will most likely consider the step. Jon Peacock, research director of the Wisconsin Council on Children as well as Families, warns in which such a trend might be “an extremely negative development because the item treats drug addiction as a moral failing rather than a disease.”

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Editorial: Gov. Walker might Drug Test the Poor

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