Only three states take advantage of federal funds to help violent crime victims
Murders are up an alarming 29% as Americans struggle with the ill effects of Covid on society. Our government has appropriated lots of money to help survivors of such assaults, but few states are using that authority.
Only three states – Connecticut, Oregon and Illinois – are using or plan to use federal Medicaid dollars to help shooting victims who survive to increase their chances of not being injured again.
“Individuals who come back to the hospital for repeat violent injury reaches up to 65%,” said Joseph Richardson Jr., the lead epidemiologist at the Center for Injury Prevention and Policy at the University of Maryland. “For each time they come in, the likelihood that they’ll experience early violent mortality increases.”
The programs are aimed at people at their most vulnerable. They connect people who have been hospitalized with services such as counseling, drug treatment and help with housing.
In 2020 the homicide rate for Americans overall was 3.8 per 100,000. For Black Americans, it was 30.7 or eight times greater.
“They show up at the hospital when someone has been shot,” said Connecticut state Rep. Jillian Gilchrest (D-West Hartford.) “They provide this intervention in the E.R. waiting room to ensure that there aren’t retaliatory shootings in communities.
“And then they go even ⇔,_further and provide follow-up care in the community to make sure that survivors of gun violence are getting the health care that they need.”
For more than a year the Biden administration has encouraged states to use Medicaid dollars to pay for community-based programs that try to reduce gun violence. But the offer has had few takers.
Biden’s proposed budget includes $500 million for community-led violence interventions split between the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services.
Many More Murders
Our nation’s homicide rate jumped 29% in 2020 compared with 2019, the largest single-year increase ever reported. The previous high came in 1968 when reported murders increased 12.7% over 1967.
However, today’s homicide rate is still about one-third below the rates in the early 1990s.
Boys and men of color are disproportionately affected by homicide. In 2020 the homicide rate for Americans overall was 3.8 per 100,000. For Black Americans, it was 30.7 or eight times greater.
An estimated 41% of patients treated in hospitals for violent injuries are wounded again within five years, according to the Health Alliance for Violence Intervention, a nonprofit agency based in Philadelphia. One survey found that 20% of patients treated for violent injuries had died five years later.
A 2016 study found that 58% of low-income Black men in cities treated for violence at a hospital had histories of trauma including drug use, carrying weapons, previous fights and being in jail or prison. People injured in shootings are also at risk of developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.
A nonprofit in Oakland, Calif., Youth ALIVE!, established the first such organization at a hospital in 1994. A study found participants were 70% less likely to be arrested and 60% less likely to be involved in criminal activity than people who didn’t participate in the program.
In 2021, governors in Connecticut and Illinois signed bills allowing their states’ Medicaid programs to pay for hospital-based violence intervention programs for patients who are on Medicaid. Oregon lawmakers voted in March to seek federal approval to use Medicaid dollars to fund violence intervention programs.