Taxpayers Cover Up to 80 Percent of Hospital Gun Violence Costs

A new study says 4 of 5 firearm victims are uninsured or on Medicaid.

An Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms officer confiscates guns during a raid on a home Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, in San Clemente, Calif. A suspect was arrested at the house on alleged weapons trafficking charges.
National Journal
Clara Ritger
Sept. 13, 2013, 8:31 a.m.

Hun­dreds of mil­lions of tax­pay­er dol­lars are spent an­nu­ally to cov­er the cost of treat­ing gun­shot wounds, ac­cord­ing to a study re­leased today.

Four of 5 fire­arm as­sault vic­tims are un­in­sured or on Medi­caid, the Urb­an In­sti­tute found.

The find­ings showed 52 per­cent of total fire­arm in­jury costs are pub­licly in­sured ““ primar­ily through Medi­caid ““ while 28 per­cent are un­in­sured. Be­cause tax­pay­ers fund Medi­caid and the gov­ern­ment is­sues pay­ments to hos­pit­als for un­com­pensated care when the un­in­sured can’t or don’t pay, the Urb­an In­sti­tute says tax­pay­ers are re­spons­ible for most of the costs of treat­ing gun­shot vic­tims.

It takes a pretty penny to treat those pa­tients. In 2010, the total es­tim­ated cost of fire­arm as­sault in­jur­ies was just un­der $630 mil­lion, more than the cost of some state Medi­caid pro­grams, ac­cord­ing to the Kais­er Fam­ily Found­a­tion.

In states that ex­pand Medi­caid un­der the Af­ford­able Care Act, many of the un­in­sured gun­shot vic­tims will be­come newly eli­gible for pub­lic in­sur­ance, ac­cord­ing to the Urb­an In­sti­tute. That will only in­crease the tax­pay­er bur­den, a spokes­wo­man for the non­par­tis­an think tank said, be­cause tax­pay­ers cov­er all of the cost of Medi­caid, where­as the un­in­sured are only par­tially covered by un­com­pensated care.

Young males make up 91 per­cent of total fire­arm as­sault in­jury costs and more than 50 per­cent of vic­tims live in zip codes earn­ing the low­est in­come quart­ile ““ where the me­di­an house­hold in­come is less than $41,000 in 2010 ““ ac­cord­ing to the find­ings.

What We're Following See More »
Trump Won’t Debate Sanders After All
5 hours ago

Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”

Airbag Recalls Target 12 Million Automobiles
7 hours ago

"The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration identified on Friday the makes and models of 12 million cars and motorcycles that have been recalled because of defective air bag inflators made by Japanese supplier Takata. The action includes 4.3 million Chryslers; 4.5 million Hondas; 1.6 million Toyotas; 731,000 Mazdas; 402,000 Nissans; 383,000 Subarus; 38,000 Mitsubishis; and 2,800 Ferraris. ... Analysts have said it could take years for all of the air bags to be replaced. Some have questioned whether Takata can survive the latest blow."

Secret Service Disciplines 41 Agents Over Chaffetz Leak
8 hours ago

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says 41 Secret Service agents have been disciplined in the fallout of an investigation over the agency's leak of personnel files. The leaker, who has resigned, released records showing that Oversight and Government Reform Chair Jason Chaffetz—who was leading an investigation of Secret Service security lapses—had applied for a job at the agency years before. The punishments include reprimands and suspension without pay. "Like many others I was appalled by the episode reflected in the Inspector General’s report, which brought real discredit to the Secret Service," said Johnson.

Romney Talks Cost of His Futile Anti-Trump Fight
10 hours ago

Mitt Romney spoke in an interview with the Wall Street Journal about his decision to challenge Donald Trump. “Friends warned me, ‘Don’t speak out, stay out of the fray,’ because criticizing Mr. Trump will only help him by giving him someone else to attack. They were right. I became his next target, and the incoming attacks have been constant and brutal.” Still, "I wanted my grandkids to see that I simply couldn’t ignore what Mr. Trump was saying and doing, which revealed a character and temperament unfit for the leader of the free world.”

Puerto Rico Relief Stalled on the Hill
10 hours ago

"A bill to help Puerto Rico handle its $70 billion debt crisis is facing an uncertain future in the Senate. No Senate Democrats have endorsed a bill backed by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, while some are actively fighting it. ... On the Republican side, senators say they’re hopeful to pass a bill but don’t know if they can support the current legislation — which is expected to win House approval given its backing from leaders in that chamber."