DHH doing right by sexual assault victims

Published 8:18 am Monday, November 3, 2014

Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals took a step in the right direction last month when it announced a plan to keep victims of sexual assault from being billed for sexual assault exams. Instead, the Crime Victim’s Reparation Board will be billed directly.

Whether they will have to pay for such an exam may not be at the top of a victim’s thoughts after such a heinous act, but every effort should be made to encourage victims to come forward, report what happened to them and undergo a sexual assault exam. DHH also said that reimbursement will be available to those who ultimately decide not to file a police report.

DHH announced the changes in a news release.

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Part of the issue is that the Reparation Board cannot accept billing directly from a provider. Hospitals bill the victims, who may use insurance or Medicaid, thus leaving a paper trail outside of the exam and test results.

Nothing should stand in the way of that examination, which are of vital importance in bringing perpetrators to justice.

Ultimately, it’s up to a victim how they choose to move forward. While they certainly should be encouraged to file a police report, sexual assault is often perpetrated by someone close to the victim, thus making reporting the assault complicated. But having an exam completed immediately following an assault provides necessary details if the victim decides at a later date to report the crime.

While some change will go into effect immediately, some laws will have to be changed. DHH said it will work with the legislature to have the Reparation Board billed directly and to have the requirement of a police report removed. Those changes aren’t likely to be met with much resistance.

The goal should be to accommodate victims every step of the way — they have already gone through enough. This will make the road to recovery a bit easier.(MGNonline)