Is Medicaid The Answer For Stopping Violence?

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Most of our readers aren’t fans of government programs and for good reason. They take tax money–money you and I earn and then the government takes a slice of–to use for whatever crap politicians think is warranted. Sometimes, some of us can shrug the existence of these programs off, but sometimes we can’t.

One that some can get past is Medicaid. After all, it helps poor people afford medical care, something they might not be able to do otherwise. If you’ve been without insurance, you know how hesitant you can be to go and get treatment.

What does that have with guns and the Second Amendment, though? Well, potentially, a lot.

Healing Hurt People is one of dozens of community violence intervention programs across the country that aims to intervene at the hospital after someone has been shot, stabbed or assaulted. The programs offer assistance with social services, like housing, employment, trauma therapy and navigating the byzantine U.S. health care system, in order to break the cycle of violence.

As the politically divisive gun violence debate stalls on Capitol Hill, where a pair of bills focused on universal background checks and red-flag laws have languished, some states are moving to secure long-term funding for these programs by tapping an unlikely federal tool: Medicaid.

Over the summer, Connecticut and Illinois became the first states to pass legislation that dedicates state and federal Medicaid funds to cover the costs of hospital-based violence prevention services and beneficiaries who’ve been treated for a violence-related injury.

Advocates say other states are not far behind, paving the way for a national model as local officials look for ways to circumvent the longstanding gun debate in Washington.

The idea has been in the works for years, advocates say, but not until the Biden administration signaled that states could – and should – use Medicaid dollars to support these violence prevention programs have state lawmakers stepped up.

“What we’re aiming for is sustainability because what we recognize is that these programs do in fact make a difference in health outcomes. They improve health outcomes,” said Theodore Corbin, an emergency physician who founded Healing Hurt People.

It’s an interesting idea, but the framing of this is incredibly problematic for me.

The “gun debate” in Washington has been about gun control. There’s not been a lot of talk by the Democrat-controlled House about programs that might address violent crime without infringing on our Second Amendment rights, nor has there been any mention of funding other programs that might reduce violence.

Pretending that’s part of the issue paints this as a partisan thing, and I’m not sure it is.

While there are some in Washington who oppose every government program that might come down the line, others are open to programs that might make a meaningful impact without further infringing on the Second Amendment. Programs like this.

It may not have been necessary to use Medicaid funds for programs like this, only I don’t recall Democrats trying to fund a damn thing.

Look, if the programs work, then great. Preventing future bloodshed is a good thing. Especially since so many of these shootings injure innocent people who just had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. If not for innocents being hurt, I’d probably be fine with them just killing each other off. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, thus making this an issue.

But let’s not pretend there’s any opposition to this approach to violent crime as part of the “gun debate.” While some might doubt whether such a program will work, no one opposes them on Second Amendment grounds, for crying out loud.