Federal watchdog: Health costs associated with gun violence exceed $1B annually
Treatment for gun-related injuries in the U.S. costs more than $1 billion per year, according to new Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimates published Wednesday.
Why it matters: The report is the first of its kind from the watchdog, per Politico, and will likely fuel Democrats' calls for expanding gun control legislation. Officials say the pandemic led to a surge in gun violence.
Details: House and Senate Democrats requested the assessment last year. Using available data on people who are injured in non-fatal gun incidents each year, the nonpartisan GAO found that:
- Gun violence leads to about 30,000 hospital stays and 50,000 emergency room visits annually.
- More than 15% of firearm injury survivors are readmitted at least once after initial treatment, leading to $8,000 to $11,000 more in health care costs per patient.
- Patients with Medicaid and other public coverage made up more than 6% of health care costs since victims are usually poor.
- Firearm injuries were disproportionately concentrated in the South.
Worth noting: Actual health costs associated with gun use yearly are likely much higher than $1 billion since the GAO's estimates don't cover treatment for long-term physical and mental injuries, the report states.
The big picture: The estimates come shortly after President Biden rolled out strategies for preventing and responding to gun violence.
- The administration is encouraging U.S. cities to use leftover COVID relief funds for programs to address gun violence.