The North Carolina General Assembly passed a law today providing more than $1 million to reimburse hospitals for performing rape kits on victims of sexual assaults as well as for one visit with a follow-up counselor. Previously, victims with insurance were billed for the portion of the visit not covered by insurance, while those without had their bills sent directly to the state. The hospitals have been charging the state an average of $1,600 per uninsured rape victim; the new program pays the hospitals $800 plus $200 for ambulance transportation. Additionally, hospitals are not allowed to seek any payment for services from rape victims. Many states pick up the entire tab for a forensic rape exam, since it comes as part of a criminal investigation, but North Carolina is at least doing something to keep hospital collectors from harassing victims who already had to screw up the courage to come forward. [Charlotte Observer]
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Yay... NC is actually pretty out-front on some of this stuff. They did away with the bit in hospital paperwork that says you will arbitrate any disputes, rather than suing — which, of course, meant they could take off the wrong breast, say, and probably not have to pay you anything.
I also like NC because they were (I think) the first to have a courthouse with a SEPARATE room for domestic violence victims to file complaints in. Women can go there and talk privately about why they need a restraining order NOW, instead of doing it in front of a crowd of other people waiting in line. I do believe they also provide a place for kids to play while this goes on... I'm guessing DV reporting has gone up lots since they did this.