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NY AG ensures sexual assault survivors no longer billed for rape exams

Survivors of sexual assault are entitled to cost-free emergency care, but an investigation by AG Schneiderman found that Brooklyn Hospital was improperly billing some patients.
brooklyn hospital
An investigation by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman found that Brooklyn Hospital was improperly billing sexual assault survivors for rape exams. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Survivors of sexual assault will be protected from paying for forensic rape examinations after New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman reached an agreement with Brooklyn Hospital Medical Center.

Schneiderman launched an investigation into the medical center, also called Brooklyn Hospital, after receiving a complaint that a sexual assault survivor had been billed seven separate times for a forensic rape exam that was administered in the hospital’s emergency room.

That investigation confirmed that Brooklyn Hospital had illegally billed sexual assault survivors for rape exams. Between January 2015 and February 2017, Brooklyn Hospital conducted 86 forensic rape exams, and in 85 of those cases, either wrongly billed the patient directly or billed the patient’s insurance plan without first advising that patient of their payment options.

An explanation of those options is required by law. New York State Executive Law says that when a hospital provides such services, including a forensic rape examination, to any sexual assault survivor, “it shall provide such services to the patient without charge and shall bill the Office of Victim Services (OVS) directly,” according to the AG’s office.

The survivor may also choose to assign the costs to private insurance, but the options are important, the law states, to ensure that the survivor’s privacy and confidentiality are secured. When privacy is offered, it’s more likely that a survivor will agree to get the examination.

Schneiderman has reached a settlement with Brooklyn Hospital after the investigation, and as part of that settlement, the hospital will maintain a sexual assault victim policy that “prevents such improper billing” and will also provide reimbursement for those survivors who were improperly billed, according to the AG’s office.

“It’s hard to imagine the heartache and anxiety a survivor must feel having to fight a collection agency over an unlawful bill for a rape kit. It’s unacceptable, and we will not allow it to continue,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “I want to be clear: Survivors of sexual assault are entitled to cost-free emergency care under New York law — and we will do everything possible to ensure they get the respect and care they deserve.”

Schneiderman has also sent letters to 10 other hospitals throughout the state to seek information about their policies. 

 
 
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