Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General

“Daily News: Brooklyn Hospital Center Illegally Charged Dozens of Sex Assault Victims for Rape Kits Required to be Free”

November 29, 2017

As published by The New York Daily News, on November 28, 2017.

Brooklyn Hospital Center billed dozens of sexual assault victims for forensic rape exams that are supposed to be free, authorities said Tuesday.

The medical center in Fort Greene charged patients for 85 rape kits between January 2015 and last February, according to State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

“These kits are used on what is undoubtedly one of the worst days of a survivor’s life,” Schneiderman said.

“The absolute last thing they should have to worry about is how they’ll pay for their care at the hospital, and we have found — contrary to law — that way too often, you have to worry.”

Schneiderman announced that the hospital has agreed to pay back the affected patients in full and institute a policy that prevents such improper billing of sexual assault victims.

Schneiderman’s office launched the investigation in January after receiving a complaint that a sex assault survivor was billed seven times for a rape test administered at the hospital’s emergency room.

The probe found that the hospital was routinely flouting a state law that requires emergency care to be provided free-of-charge to victims of sexual assault.

In some cases, the medical center billed patients directly. In others, it billed the survivors’ insurance plan without advising them of the payment options, Schneiderman said.

“This is not one or two rogue employees,” Schneiderman said.

“We cannot and will not allow this to continue.”

Under the settlement, Brooklyn Hospital Center also agreed to pay a $15,000 fine.

“There was an inadvertent breakdown in our billing processes related to sexual assault victims, which we deeply regret,” the hospital said in a statement.

“Working closely and transparently with the Attorney General’s Office, the hospital designed interdisciplinary processes and protocols to ensure that these billing issues do not occur again and to reflect not only our compliance with the law, but also our longstanding commitment to victims of sexual assault.”