Leaders from more than a dozen large health systems are calling on Congressional leaders to support President Joe Biden's proposed $5 billion investment into community-based violence prevention programs.
In a letter sent to leaders of both parties in the House and Senate on Wednesday, CEOs of the 18 systems along with more than 1,300 healthcare professionals urged lawmakers to keep the inclusion of the violence prevention provision within Biden's $2 trillion jobs and infrastructure plan.
"From trauma bays to operating rooms, healthcare professionals see the breadth and severity of the gun violence crisis in stark terms," said Michael Dowling, president and CEO of New York-based, Northwell Health in a released statement. "We have a responsibility to respond and protect the health of our patients and communities—but to do that most effectively, we need Congress to help us do our jobs. Addressing gun violence isn't a Republican issue or Democratic issue—it's a public health issue."
Check out Modern Healthcare's Special Report on how hospitals are responding to gun violence.
The letter called for a public health response to gun violence similar in its intensity to the effort given to quell the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The homicide rate rose by 30% in 2020 compared to 2019, according to a January report by the Council on Criminal Justice, with increases in nearly all of the 34 cities examined.
The call to fund prevention programs is the latest in a campaign launched by Northwell Health in 2019 that urges healthcare stakeholders to form a unified voice to lobby for gun control legislation.
The campaign echoes the work a number of healthcare providers have conducted in recent years to connect gun violence victims to behavioral healthcare supports and other resources to prevent any further escalation of violence.