Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Drug testing welfare recipients proposal

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - A Louisiana congressman introduced a bill recently which would require welfare recipients to be tested for drugs.

Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA) of Lafayette introduced the measure, likening it today to requirements by private employers to test their workers for controlled substances.

Rachel Fontenot, a nurse practitioner in Baton Rouge, supports the idea.

"I think it's a good way of using tax dollars," she said. "I think that it's something that needs to be done to make sure things aren't being wasted."

Others are concerned that it would unduly harm those who need the most help, such as Lynne Medley, the CEO of Baton Rouge Primary Care.

"I just don't see the denial of benefits as the appropriate response," she said. "I think anytime you find a problem the right response would be to address the problem."

Boustany's bill would let people who fail the test take it again in six months, or have the option to go into a treatment program.

Similar measures failed to pass in the Louisiana state legislature, and versions in other states have taken to court or struck down.



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