Remedy for Gun Accidents Price Extra Than $1 Billion a 12 months, Watchdog Says

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In a groundbreaking report released Wednesday, a federal guard estimates that the cost of medical treatment for gunshot wound survivors in the United States is at least $ 1 billion each year, but is likely to be much higher.

The new assessment by the Government Accountability Office, the impartial investigative body for Congress, used up-to-date hospital data to determine that firearm injuries resulted in approximately 50,000 emergency room visits and 30,000 inpatient visits annually.

Public coverage programs like Medicaid made up more than 60 percent of care costs. Although the report did not break down all patient data by race and ethnicity, it found that black patients accounted for more than half of all inpatient stays and costs.

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and Senator Elizabeth Warren last year called on GAO to compile investigations into the immediate and long-term costs of gun injuries. The incidents covered in the report vary widely, from injuries sustained while cleaning a gun to cases of self-harm and suicide or interpersonal gun violence, including injuries by law enforcement agencies.

“Today’s report provides shocking new evidence of how gun violence is straining our health system and causing disproportionate damage to historically marginalized communities in the United States,” Ms. Maloney said in a statement. “Congress must do whatever it takes – including the elimination of the filibuster if necessary – to address this public health crisis and protect our constituents from gun violence.”

GAO found no reliable data that would shed light on the long-term cost of gunshot wounds – the only data available on the cost of long-term physical and mental health care was decades old.

“There is no complete information on the health costs of gun injuries,” the 53-page report said. “National data allow estimates of the cost of the first hospital treatment and some costs in the first year, but less is known about the cost as the time elapses after the injury.”

The report is unique in that it is one of the first federal reports on gun violence since 1996, when the Dickey Amendment effectively ended all federal attempts to fund or conduct research on gun violence.

It wasn’t until 2019, after a nearly 25-year hiatus, that Congress began funding federal health officials to conduct research into gun injury prevention. The push has been led by Democrats, while Republicans in Congress have largely rejected such funding.

The GAO report precedes a vote expected by the House Budgets Committee on a bill to increase research funding by $ 12.5 million to prevent gunshot wounds and deaths.