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At Least Eight NY Hospitals Caught Illegally Billing Sexual Assault Victims For Rape Kits

A forensic rape examination kit
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A forensic rape examination kit Pat Sullivan/AP/Shutterstock

Multiple New York hospitals that have been illegally billing sexual assault victims for their forensic rape examinations [FRE] will be forced to pay back the survivors, as part of a settlement reached Thursday with New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood's office.

The deal caps off a statewide investigation that began after a sexual assault survivor complained about being billed seven separate times for a rape kit at Brooklyn Hospital's emergency room. The complaint set off a yearlong probe, which revealed at least 200 unlawfully billed FREs, ranging from $46 to $3,000, at seven hospitals across the state.

Those hospitals are: 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.

Overall, Underwood's office said they discovered "pervasive failures to advise patients of their payment options, and widespread unlawful billing of sexual assault survivors." In some cases, the unpaid bills were even handed over to debt-collection agencies, who reportedly hounded the survivors on multiple occasions.

Under the terms of the agreements, the hospitals agreed to pay back the patients, and to implement new written policies ensuring sexual survivors are not billed for rape kits. The AG's office confirmed an eighth hospital entered a settlement after the initial press release.

"Survivors of sexual assault have already gone through unfathomable trauma; to then subject them to illegal bills and collection calls is unconscionable," Underwood said 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."

New Yorkers with complaints about hospital billing or other health-care related issues are encouraged to contact the Attorney General’s Health Care Helpline at 1-800-428-9071.

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