Key Committee Clears Bipartisan Ruppersberger-Kinzinger Bill to End the Cycle of Violence
(Washington, DC) – The U.S. House of Representative’s Energy and Commerce Committee today passed bipartisan legislation sponsored by Congressmen C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) to expand hospital-based violence intervention programs around the country. H.R. 5855, the Bipartisan Solution to Cyclical Violence Act of 2020, provides $10 million in federal grants to hospitals that offer services to victims of violent crime while they are recovering from their injuries.
The bill, which will now be considered by the full House of Representatives, addresses the revolving door of violent injury and re-injury seen at trauma centers around the country, where many patients are “repeat customers.” In fact, one of the leading risk factors for violent injury is a prior violent injury.
“Violent crime costs American taxpayers more than $42 billion – from police, courts and jails, to the medical expenses of victims, to the lost wages to both victims and perpetrators,” Congressman Ruppersberger said. “We need to find innovative solutions to stop the violence. I want to thank my colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee for moving this bipartisan and common sense bill forward and taking our country one step closer to ending the violence plaguing our cities.”
“Without question, we have a violence epidemic here in America, and I believe the community plays a critical role in addressing this crisis,” said Congressman Kinzinger. “I’m glad to see my legislation with Rep. Ruppersberger pass through the House Energy and Commerce Committee today, supporting our effort to fund violence intervention programs and putting us on a path to stop the vicious cycle of violence plaguing too many of our communities.”
The bill is modeled off the Violence Intervention Program at the University of Maryland Medical Center’s R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, where a staggering 20 percent of patients are victims of violence, usually stabbings and shootings. These patients are a captive audience, confined to a bed and off the streets, if only for a few days, program administrators say. Participants receive a bed-side assessment, counseling and a broad range of support that could include groceries, bus money, substance abuse treatment, job training or help finding affordable housing.
At Shock Trauma, program participants have shown an 83 percent decrease in re-hospitalization due to intentional violent injury, a 75 percent reduction in criminal activity, and an 82 percent increase in employment.
The bill requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to select existing and aspiring violence prevention programs from across the country to receive federal grants for expanding services or studying effectiveness. At the end of a 3-year pilot, each hospital will report its findings back to the federal government. Awards will range from $250,000 to $500,000.
The bill was first introduced by Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger in 2019, when it was endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the American College of Surgeons, the Society of Trauma Nurses, the National Association of School Resource Officers, the National League of Cities, the National Network of Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs, the National District Attorneys Association, and Cure Violence. Since, that list has grown to now include the American Hospital Association, American College of Emergency Physicians, and local elected officials.