Hospitals in New York City that illegally billed rape survivors for rape kits reached a settlement to repay the victims. The New York Attorney General’s Office said that at least 200 victims were billed up to $3,000 for kits and examinations, which should be billed to the state or insurance providers. As part of the agreement, hospitals will also set up new policies to prevent it from happening again, according to NBC News.
According to the New York attorney general, eight hospitals, including Columbia University Hospital and New York Presbyterian Hospital, billed sexual assault survivors who sought medical help. The hospitals also failed to inform victims of their billing options, which includes sending bills directly to New York State’s Office of Victim Services unless the patient asks for a different option.
Last year, Barbara Underwood, who is the state’s first female attorney general, settled with Brooklyn Hospital after discovering that a patient had been billed seven times for care she received as part of a sexual assault.
“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.”
Now, at least eight more hospitals have been discovered to have billed patients illegally. Although none of the hospitals admitted to breaking the law, they have settled with the attorney general’s office to repay the victims and each hospital will pay a fine up to $15,000.
“We’ve secured settlements with 7 NY hospitals that illegally billed rape survivors up to $3000 each for rape kits,” said the New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood’s office on Twitter. “It is unconscionable that survivors were subjected to this after unfathomable trauma. We are making sure they are paid back every dollar.
We’ve secured settlements with 7 NY hospitals that illegally billed rape survivors up to $3000 each for rape kits.— NY AG Underwood (@NewYorkStateAG) November 29, 2018
It is unconscionable that survivors were subjected to this after unfathomable trauma. We are making sure they are paid back every dollar. https://t.co/spScW3oXo1
The Violence Against Women Act stipulates that hospitals may not charge victims for care associated with sexual assault or for rape kits. In New York, bills are sent to the state unless the survivor wants their insurance to be billed.
New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Richmond University Medical Center, Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center, Montefiore Nyack Hospital, New York-Presbyterian/Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, and St. Barnabas Hospital were all involved in the settlement. Columbia University was also included because they employ physicians at New York Presbyterian. The AG’s office didn’t state the name of the eighth hospital, which was settled separately a few days after the first group.
“The hospital has worked very closely with the Attorney General’s Office to ensure that proper protocols were implemented to avoid any further occurrences,” Montefiore Nyack Hospital said in the statement. “We regret the error and acted immediately to provide reparations to any individual affected.”