Seven hospitals to repay 200 rape survivors for illegal bills

November 30, 2018 By Christina Carrega Brooklyn Daily Eagle
New York hospitals came under fire in 2017 for billing rape survivors for their forensic rape exams. On Thursday, prosecutors announced that the hospitals would refund the survivors who were illegally billed. AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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More than a half dozen hospitals throughout the city are expected to refund rape survivors who were billed for their rape kits, prosecutors announced on Thursday.

At least 200 sexual assault survivors were illegally sent bills from seven hospitals requesting payments from $46 to $3,000. The settlement is a part of the attorney general’s ongoing statewide investigation, which launched in 2017 after the Brooklyn Hospital Medical Center came under fire for billing a rape survivor several times for her forensic rape exam.

“Survivors of sexual assault have already gone through unfathomable trauma. To then subject them to illegal bills and collection calls is unconscionable,” said Attorney General Barbara Underwood. “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.”

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Under the terms of the agreement, the hospitals will 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, said Underwood.

The hospitals involved in this recent settlement are Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center in Brownsville, Columbia University Medical Center, Montefiore Nyack Hospital in Nyack, New York Presbyterian/Brooklyn Methodist Hospital in Park Slope, New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center in Washington Heights, Richmond University Medical Center in Staten Island and St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.

“Safe Horizon is grateful to Attorney General Barbara Underwood for expanding her office’s investigation into hospitals that unlawfully require sexual assault survivors to cover the cost of their rape kits,” said Ariel Zwang, CEO of Safe Horizon. “It is shocking that protections enacted into law through the Violence Against Women Act have been routinely ignored at great financial and emotional cost to survivors.”

Underwood urges 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.

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