By funding the expansion of state Medicaid programs beyond the traditional populations of poor mothers and children, the Affordable Care Act has brought coverage to tens of thousands of previously uninsured shooting victims, often young African-American men, who, once stabilized in emergency rooms, missed out on crucial follow-up care and have endured unremitting effects of nerve injuries, fractured bones, intestinal damage and post-traumatic stress disorder, the New York Times reports. The landmark health care law faces an uncertain future given the Republican Party’s presidential election victory and its control of both houses of Congress.
The same states that have opted to expand Medicaid, including California, Arizona, Illinois, Michigan, Maryland and Pennsylvania, suffer high numbers of firearm injuries. The law is profoundly changing how gunshot victims in these states heal from grievous injuries by guaranteeing access to specialists, physical therapy, nursing home care, antibiotics, wound supplies and wheelchairs. “Some of my patients would be missing their skulls three months after the injury and have to wear helmets,” said Dr. Michael Ajluni, a traumatic brain injury specialist at the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan in Detroit. “Now they can get their skulls back in place.” Officials at urban hospitals across the country estimated that before the health law, more than half of their gunshot patients were uninsured.