Seven New York hospitals have agreed to settlements for restitution, plus costs, after billing rape survivors up to $3,000 each for rape kits and sending bill collectors after those who failed to pay.
Those hospitals—Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center, Columbia University, Montefiore Nyack Hospital, New York Presbyterian/Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Richmond University Medical Center and St. Barnabas Hospital—agreed to implement written policies to ensure that sexual assault survivors do not receive bills for their rape exams.
They will also provide full restitution to any improperly billed sexual assault survivors, and pay costs.
“Survivors of sexual assault have already gone through unfathomable trauma; to then subject them to illegal bills and collection calls is unconscionable,” said New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood in a statement. “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 settlement comes the same day CNN released a three-year investigation showing several states have been destroying rape kits before they have been tested or before the statute of limitations has expired.
This settlement follows a settlement last year with The Brooklyn Hospital Medical Center, in which the hospital agreed to pay back rape survivors after it improperly billed patients directly or billed the patient’s insurance plan without telling the patients they could either bill their insurer or the state’s Office of Victim Services.
This has been an issue at a number of states across the U.S. which have charged rape survivors for their treatment. Federal law prohibits organizations from charging rape victims for medical forensic exams, but what local or state agencies cover for costs varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Many states have restitution funds for victims.