BROOKLYN, New York — A settlement has been reached with a Brooklyn hospital accused of illegally billing sexual assault survivors for forensic rape examinations, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced Tuesday.
Schneiderman launched an investigation into Brooklyn Hospital Medical Center after receiving a complaint that a sexual assault survivor was billed seven times for a forensic rape exam administered in the emergency room. The investigation found that between January 2015 and February 2017, the hospital either illegally billed the patient or the patient’s insurance in 85 of the 86 exams it conducted. The hospital had also sent some of these illegal bills to collection.
According to New York state law, when a hospital furnishes services to any sexual assault survivor – including a rape kit – it must provide these services to the patient free of charge. Instead, they must bill the Office of Victim Services directly or the patient may voluntarily assign the costs to their private insurance. This system is meant to protect the privacy and confidentiality of survivors and increases the likelihood that a survivor will submit to the exam.
“It’s hard to imagine the heartache and anxiety a survivor must feel having to fight a collection agency over an unlawful bill for a rape kit. It’s unacceptable, and we will not allow it to continue,” Schneiderman said. “I want to be clear: survivors of sexual assault are entitled to cost-free emergency care under New York law – and we will do everything possible to ensure they get the respect and care they deserve.”
As part of the settlement, Brooklyn Hospital Medical Center will provide full restitution to the improperly billed sexual assault survivors. The hospital has also pledged to maintain a Sexual Assault Victim Policy that prevents such improper billing from occurring in the future.
New Yorkers with complaints regarding hospital billing or other health-care related issues may contact the Attorney General’s Health Care Helpline at 1-800-428-9071.