Gov. Scott Walker

Gov. Scott Walker wants to make Wisconsin the first state in the country to require childless adults applying for Medicaid to undergo drug screening. It is a move that he hopes could serve as a national model.

Walker’s plan, which will be voted on today by the Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee, also requires federal approval from President Donald Trump’s administration. Welfare reform proposals from Walker up for review today include a number of work requirements and drug testing provisions.

The proposal would require applicants to complete a screening assessment for illegal drug use and test likely users. If a person refuses a drug test, he or she would be ineligible for coverage until the test is completed. People who test positive would get treatment. Those who refuse treatment would lose benefits for six months.

Opponents say the plan won’t work as intended and could have the reverse effect and will leave Wisconsin with more drug-addicted people in need of medical care who are no longer covered under BadgerCare. Critics also argue that the plan will likely be declared unconstituional.

“It may be very good politics for a governor’s race, but that’s mostly what it is. It’s horrendous public policy,” said Robert Kraig, executive director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin.

There are currently 14 states that have some type of drug screening or test as part of their public benefits programs. Wisconsin is looking to become the first to require it as a condition of eligibility for the Medicaid program.

Walker has talked for years about drug testing food stamp and Medicaid recipients, explaining that it is a way to make welfare programs a “trampoline, not a hammock” to get people back into the workforce.