DHH changes hospital billing for sex victims

DHH changes hospital billing for sex victims

During a special committee meeting in Baton Rouge, law makers tackle a hot button issue that affects sexual assault victims.

"It pains me to know that there are people in Angola who have committed terrible acts and they get free medical treatment," says Senator Karen Carter Peterson.

Victims of sexual assault are being charged for some of their care as it relates to the crime committed against them.

State Senator J.P. Morrell says while the Charity system used to absorb all costs, some of the privatized hospitals are charging patients for things like HIV and pregnancy tests and even stitches they may require from the assault.

"Beyond the obvious fact that these individuals are becoming a victim twice by the system, they were coding these bills as optional and that really bothered me," says Sen. Morrell.

He also says when victims know these bills are coming, they're less likely to report a sexual crime.

The Department of Health and Hospitals is stepping in to help with a plan to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.

"In the short term, they're going to prohibit hospitals from charging you for the services in the short term," says Sen. Morrell.

The plan would eventually streamline the funding by allowing hospitals to bill the 'Crime Victim's Reparations Board' directly, but legislation would have to pass in April for that to happen.

"The end goal that we are all trying to reach is that a victim never receives a bill or has to deal with the billing of service provided for a sexual assault," says Sen. Morrell.

It's unclear if the board will have enough funds to cover the new costs.

The Health Department says it will work with legislators to ensure the appropriate level of funding.

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