Rape exams should be billed to state, Jindal says
BATON ROUGE - Gov. Bobby Jindal has directed a state crime victim's board to pay hospitals and health centers for sexual assault victims' medical exams.
Jindal's executive order, issued Tuesday, is trying to keep victims from being charged for a forensic medical exam, billing that advocacy groups and lawmakers called outrageous and improper. Some rape victims have received bills totaling thousands of dollars.
"We're seeing bills that could be anywhere from $1,200 to $43-4400," said Executive Director of the Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault Ebony Tucker. "It's general knowledge if you have to pay for your services at the ER, and if you don't have insurance or if you're not able to do so then that's definitely a deterrent."
The governor's order seeks to sidestep current limitations on the Crime Victim's Reparation Board. The board said it can't accept bills directly from the medical provider for treatment of rape victims. Jindal is ordering the board to revise its policies to change that.
But questions remain about whether hospitals will direct their payment claims to the board - and about what costs are included in a forensic medical exam.
"That fund is already used for a wide variety of crime victim services and usually runs either right at the budget, or, at least what we've been told, at the budget or at a deficit every year," said Tucker.
The Department of Health and Hospitals says right now they are not sure how much this will cost of if the fund will cover everything. This is a temporary fix that will be addressed during the legislative session.
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