Treating firearm-related injuries in the U.S. costs more than $1 billion annually, with public health programs like Medicaid picking up most of the tab, according to new Government Accountability Office estimates shared with POLITICO.
The assessment was requested by House and Senate Democrats last year and comes as the Biden administration is encouraging cities to spend unused Covid relief funds to address gun violence.
The nonpartisan GAO found gun violence accounts for about 30,000 hospital stays and about 50,000 emergency room visits annually. More than 15 percent of firearm injury survivors are also readmitted at least once after initial treatment, costing an additional $8,000 to $11,000 per patient. Because the majority of victims are poor, the burden largely falls on safety-net programs like Medicaid, including covering some of the care for the uninsured.
The report, the first of its kind from the watchdog agency, is based available data on caring for people who suffer non-fatal gun injuries each year. It’s expected to fuel Democrats’ calls for expanded background checks amid a stalemate on gun control legislation.
— Alice Miranda Olstein and Nicholas Wu in Health costs of gun violence exceed $1 billion a year, GAO says