Louisiana health leaders, policy makers and advocates are calling for an end to the practice of billing rape victims for forensic medical evaluations and care, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “I had no idea that was happening,” said state Rep. Helena Moreno. “Talk about being traumatized twice.” The Times-Picayune yesterday described the shock rape victims and their families experienced when they received bills ranging from $1,700 to $4,000 after going through the hours-long process of being medically evaluated following a sexual assault.
The state Department of Health and Hospitals vowed to work with the Legislature to address the issue, which they blamed on “disjointed local parish health policies” and “a poor legacy charity system that was run inefficiently for many years.” “We take a strong stand against sexual violence,” said departmen spokeswoman Olivia Watkins. “Our heart goes out to victims of these crimes. Though state and federal laws dictate that victims should bear no out-of-pocket costs for the exams, inconsistent practices from one parish to another and one hospital to another leaves Louisiana victims without the assurance that they will not be billed for evidence collection, hospital admittance and other related medical costs.