KFF HEALTH NEWS – To tackle America’s gun problem, a growing number of states are allowing Medicaid dollars to fund community-based violence programs intended to stop shootings.
The idea is to boost resources for violence prevention programs, which have been overwhelmed in some cities by a spike in violent crime since the covid-19 pandemic.
[No mention of funding for the one violence prevention program known to work — very long prison terms for felons in possession of a firearm or persons who commit crimes while armed. – HH]
An infusion of reliable funding, their advocates say, could allow these nonprofits to expand their reach to more residents most at risk of being shot — or of shooting someone. That’s the plan in Chicago, where Arne Duncan, the former U.S. education secretary, leads the violence prevention group Chicago CRED.
“We’re trying to build a public health infrastructure to combat gun violence,” Duncan told me. “Having Medicaid start to be a player in this space and create those opportunities could be a game changer.”
In 2020, many cities around the country confronted a rise in shootings and homicides after officials responding to the pandemic shut down schools, businesses and critical social services.
That same year, police murdered George Floyd, a Black [sic] man in Minneapolis, sparking nationwide protests and calls to cut police funding. Americans, already armed to the hilt, rushed to buy more guns.
While the pandemic has receded, gun violence has surged in some cities. Gun ownership is at a historic high in the United States, which is estimated to have more guns than people.
Programs that worked a few years ago in places like Oakland, Calif. — which had won acclaim for slashing its gun violence — can’t keep up.
Gun violence also brings a hefty price tag. Studies from the Government Accountability Office and Harvard Medical School have shown that the cost of caring for gunshot survivors ranges from $1 billion in initial treatments to $2.5 billion over 12 months.
And it’s not only gunshot victims who need medical help …