Florida Governor Rick Scott was so sure people on welfare use drugs at a higher rate than the general population, he insisted anyone receiving help from the Department of Children and Families be tested.
Under the sponsorship of Republican state Senator Steve Oelrich, a bill was presented to the Florida Legislature that Oelrich said was, “all about trying to break the cycle of drug dependency and using taxpayer dollars to buy illegal drugs.” The bill passed over objections from Democrats.
In July, the state began implementing the policy that requires all applicants for temporary cash assistance to pass four drug tests per year, which the applicant must pay for, before any funds can be disbursed to them. If the applicant tests negative for drugs, they are reimbursed for the test. If the result is positive, they are barred from the program.
The results so far: 98% passed.
The cost to the State of Florida: $178 million annually.
OK, so Rick Scott appears to have been publicly embarrassed after supporting a failed policy that is estimated to cost $5 for every $1 it saves. But, there’s more to the story.
This is the same Rick Scott that was forced out of his CEO position at health care giant Columbia/HCA just before the company admitted to 14 felonies and agreed to pay the federal government over $600 million in welfare fraud restitution. This is the same Rick Scott who somehow (his friendship with George W. Bush, perhaps?) avoided any criminal prosecution in the federal indictment against Columbia/HCA, a company Scott co-founded and led. This is the same Rick Scott who then co-founded Solantic, a chain of urgent care centers that provide drug testing for the workforce.
In his support of the drug testing bill Scott said it is “unfair for Florida taxpayers to subsidize drug addiction.” Apparently it is not unfair for them to subsidize shady politicians and their business partners.
Scott is a conservative Republican billionaire who used $73 million of his own money and the support of the tea party to win his governorship.