Attorney General James Announces Settlement With Hospital For Illegally Billing Rape Survivors For Rape Exams

9th Settlement of AG’s Ongoing Statewide Investigation

NEW YORK-- Attorney General Letitia James today announced an agreement with the BronxCare Health System (“BronxCare”) after an investigation that revealed the hospital illegally billed sexual assault survivors for forensic rape examinations. As part of the settlement, BronxCare will implement a written policy 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 to New York State. This is the ninth settlement the Attorney General’s Office has secured as part of its statewide investigation into the improper billing of rape examinations. 

“The trauma of sexual assault is more than enough for a survivor to bear. The secondary trauma of fighting an illegal bill for a forensic rape exam is unfathomable, and we will not allow it to continue,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “Let me be clear: 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.”  

The investigation into BronxCare follows the settlement with the Brooklyn Hospital Medical Center (“Brooklyn Hospital”) in 2017. Following that settlement, the Office of the Attorney General launched a statewide investigation into illegal billing procedures that has so far resulted in settlements with seven additional facilities.  

The investigation into BronxCare revealed that between January 10, 2016 and December 26, 2017, BronxCare improperly billed 17 patients for its hospital services, billed the insurers of 10 of these patients, and sent 12 of the bills to collection. The emergency room physicians separately sent bills to 13 of these patients and sent 12 of the bills to collection. These bills ranged from $35 to $1,957. The investigation also revealed that BronxCare failed to advise patients of their billing options, as required by law.   

New York State Executive Law Section 631(13) provides that when a hospital furnishes services -- including a forensic rape examination -- to any sexual assault survivor, it shall provide such services to the patient without charge and shall bill the New York State Office of Victim Services (“OVS”) directly, or alternatively, the sexual assault survivor may voluntarily opt to assign the costs to private insurance. The purpose of Executive Law Section 631(13) is to ease payment of services to sexual assault survivors by providing for submission of bills to OVS; provide quality exams; and give victims of sexual assault the ability to choose a means of payment, either through the OVS program or their own insurance. Allowing sexual assault survivors to choose to have OVS directly pay for services ensures the privacy and confidentially of sexual assault victims. This increased privacy increases the likelihood that a victim will submit to a forensic rape examination, which in turn increases the ability of law enforcement agencies to identify offenders.  

New Yorkers with complaints regarding hospital billing or other health-care related issues may contact the Attorney General’s Health Care in-state toll-free Helpline at 1-800-428-9071 or 1-518-776-2477.  

The investigation was conducted by Assistant Attorney General Dorothea Caldwell-Brown of the Attorney General’s Health Care Bureau under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Susan J. Cameron and Bureau Chief Lisa Landau. The Health Care Bureau is part of the Social Justice Division.  

 

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