Dozens of sexual assault survivors who were “improperly” billed for their rape kit exams by Brooklyn Hospital Center will be reimbursed, according to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
The AP reports that Schneiderman’s office reached an agreement with the hospital to pay back patients who paid for their rape kits out of pocket. The hospital will also be repsonsible for informing survivors that rape kits should and can be billed to the Office of Victim Services.
Schneiderman was prompted to look into this matter when a woman contacted his office in January of this year; she was treated at the hospital in question after being sexually assaulted in 2015 and was subsequently billed “seven different times” for the processing of her rape kit. According to Schneiderman, when the woman did not pay the bill, the hospital reportedly sent her to collections—an added indiginity that Schneiderman called “intolerable.” Per the Violence Against Women act, hospitals are prohibited from doing exactly what Brooklyn Hospital did—it’s illegal to charge assault survivors for their rape kits, but the AP notes that enforcing these laws have been “haphazard” at best.
Schneiderman’s investigation found that, out of all but one of the 86 forensic rape exams conducted at the hospital between January 2015 and February 2017, the hospital billed the patients or the patient’s insurance provider without telling the patient that they had the option to bill the Office of Victim Services.
The hospital blamed the billing mishap on an “indaverent breakdown” in their billing process and said in a statement that they were working with Schneiderman’s office to make sure these “billing issues” don’t happen again.
“These kits are used on what is undoubtedly one of the worst days of a survivor’s life,” Schneiderman said to the AP. “The absolute last thing they should have to worry about is how they’ll pay for their care at the hospital. But we have found contrary to law that way too often they do have to worry.”