An investigation by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman revealed that Brooklyn Hospital improperly charged 85 of 86 forensic rape exams. After an agreement with the prosecutor, that medical institution must return the money to the victims of sexual assault that he attended and maintain a policy that prevents that billing.
At a time when sexual harassment and assault have taken sound dimensions after multiple accusations against prominent figures in entertainment, politics and journalism, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced Tuesday that the Brooklyn Hospital Medical Center billed ” illegally “to victims of sexual assaults by forensic rape examinations .
After that investigation, the prosecutor’s office reached an agreement with that medical institution to maintain a policy of victims of sexual assault that prevents undue billing and, in turn, provides full restitution to victims of sexual assault improperly billed.
Also, all victims of sexual assault will be given a document explaining that the state can pay that procedure or bill it to their private medical plan. “Some patients prefer to pay for this procedure because of the understandable desire for privacy and confidentiality,” the prosecutor said.
The prosecutor’s investigation revealed that, out of 86 forensic rape exams that the Brooklyn Hospital conducted between January 2015 and February 2017, in 85 of them the hospital improperly charged the patient or billed his medical plan without notifying him of his payment options as required by law.
When a victim of sexual assault goes to the hospital within 96 hours of the incident, they perform a forensic rape exam that includes what is known as a rape kit , which is intended to secure any DNA evidence on the body, clothing or the victim’s belongings for police and prosecution review, Schneiderman said.
“These kits are used in, undoubtedly, one of their worst days of a survivor.The last thing a victim of sexual assault should worry about is how to pay for their care in the hospital,” the prosecutor said at a press conference .
According to Schneiderman, contrary to what the law dictates, patients pay on average more than $ 900 for emergency care, even with a private medical plan.
But since 2005, a New York law requires victims of sexual assault to be entitled to emergency care free of charge through the State’s Office of Victim Services .
Schneiderman’s office initiated the investigation after receiving a complaint from a sexual assault survivor who was billed seven times by Brooklyn Hospital for a forensic examination of rape administered in that institution’s emergency room.
After the situation that occurred in this hospital, Schneiderman sent letters to 10 additional hospitals throughout the State of New York in search of information about their policies.
“Think for a moment just how traumatizing is the sexual assault and then invoices arrive to your mailbox to pay for what is basically a collection of evidence of a crime scene, and that crime scene is the body of a woman or a man” , said Sonia Osorio, president of the National Organization of Women, NOW NYC .
New Yorkers with complaints about hospital billing or other health care issues can contact the Attorney General’s Health Helpline at 1-800-428-9071.