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Photo: Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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.

Go deeper

Biden signs bill to support victims of mysterious "Havana Syndrome"

U.S Embassy in Havana. Photo: Emily Michot/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

President Biden signed a bill on Friday that will authorize additional support for diplomats and government officials who have suffered brain injuries overseas in a series of unexplained health episodes dating back to 2016.

Why it matters: As many as 200 Americans have come forward with symptoms associated with the so-called "Havana Syndrome," which was first experienced by U.S. diplomats in Cuba but has since been reported in China and Europe. Some officials have complained that they have not received adequate treatment from the State Department.

Rachel Levine sworn in as first openly transgender 4-star officer

Rachel Levine testifies at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Feb. 25, 2021. Photo: Caroline Brehman-Pool/Getty Images

Rachel Levine was sworn in on Tuesday as the admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, making her the nation's first openly transgender four-star officer, the Department of Health and Human Services said.

The big picture: Levine, the assistant secretary for health, made history in March when she became the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's carbon emissions-cutting pledge faces tough climb

Image from the Rhodium Group study "Pathways to Paris." Courtesy of the Rhodium Group.

The verdict is in: President Biden's U.S. emissions-cutting pledge isn't a fantasy, but the path to meeting it is very difficult and relies on forces outside of White House control.

Driving the news: The Rhodium Group just released an analysis of policy combinations that could close the gap between the current U.S. trajectory and Biden's vow under the Paris Agreement to cut emissions in half by 2030.