An area hospital is among seven in New York ordered to pay restitution to survivors of sexual assaults for illegally billing them.
Nyack Hospital was listed as one of seven hospitals that reached a settlement to implement written policies to ensure that sexual assault survivors do not receive bills for their rape examinations, provide full restitution to any improperly billed sexual assault survivors, and pay costs.
According to New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, New York State law “provides that when a hospital furnishes 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 directly, or alternatively, the sexual assault survivor may voluntarily opt to assign the costs to private insurance.”
“Survivors of sexual assault have already gone through unfathomable trauma; to then subject them to illegal bills and collection calls is unconscionable,” she said. “Hospitals have a fundamental responsibility to comply with New York law. My office will continue to do everything in our power to protect survivors and their rights.”
The investigation into the hospitals came after the Attorney General’s Office received a complaint from a sexual assault survivor who was billed seven times for a forensic rape examination. That complaint led to a statewide investigation of billing practices, which led to the settlement with the seven hospitals.
Underwood said that the investigation found pervasive failures to advise patients of their payment options, and widespread unlawful billing of sexual assault survivors. The ongoing investigation has already revealed at least 200 unlawfully billed forensic rape exams at the seven settling hospitals, with the bills ranged from approximately $46 to $3,000 each.
“The law is clear. It directs hospitals to charge the New York State Office of Victim Services for all sexual assault forensic exams,” Mary Haviland, the Executive Director of the NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault stated. “No survivor of sexual assault should be charged for a forensic exam in a hospital Emergency Room.”
Other hospitals that were part of the settlement were Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center, Columbia University, Montefiore New York Presbyterian/Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Richmond University Medical Center, and St. Barnabas Hospital.
“Hospitals are places for care and healing and no one who seeks help after a sexual assault should be re-traumatized by being billed for the processing of a rape kit,” Judy Harris Kluger, Executive Director of Sanctuary for Families said. “The collection of evidence itself takes a physical and emotional toll, as our clients have attested to.”
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