August 16, 2011 — A bill (S 972) before New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) would bar health care providers from directly billing sexual assault survivors for services associated with the collection of forensic evidence, the AP/Newark Star-Ledger reports.
Federal law requires reimbursement of health care providers for services associated with forensic sexual assault examinations, including routine medical screening, medications to prevent sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy tests, emergency contraception, supplies, equipment and use of space. Invoices are supposed to be sent to designated government agencies for review and payment; however, survivors often receive invoices as a result of administrative errors or attempts to bill a survivor's insurance company.
The bill's co-sponsor, state Sen. Diane Allen (R), said, "In no other crime would it even be contemplated that victims receive an invoice for the collection of evidence needed to prosecute the offenders." She added, "Victims who receive a bill are needlessly forced to relive their attack all over again by the very people to whom they turned for help. This legislation will prevent this inhumane practice in New Jersey."
The bill was passed with strong majorities in both chambers. It is not clear when Christie will act on it (Shipkowski, AP/Newark Star-Ledger, 8/14).