I honestly never thought I’d have occasion to write that phrase, but I’m happy to do so, because I just found out that contrary to the story that made the rounds earlier (SarahMC’s post is here), Texas has not been charging victims for the cost of their rape kits.
The claim has been roundly denied in a statement from the office of the Texas Attorney General, which is intended
…to reassure all interested parties that the Crime Victim Compensation Fund has always covered the costs associated with sexual assault examinations. And that practice will continue.
The case that brought this unwanted attention apparently began when billing error by a hospital resulted in a victim being charged for her rape kit. The AG’s office welcomes questions about the Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund at (800) 983-9933.
In case you’re wondering if this is a classic governmental CYA move, the info is corroborated by the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault. You can read their full statement at their blog. Of particular interest:
We want to assure everyone that the cost of a forensic exam is not billed to the victim. This is always the responsibility of law enforcement and they in turn can be reimbursed for up to $700 though the Crime Victim’s Compensation (CVC) fund. If the cost exceeds this amount it is absorbed by the law enforcement agency or hospital, not the victim.
Additional medical treatment is not part of the forensic exam and billed separately. All crime victims, i.e. rape, gunshot, mugging, etc. are billed for medical treatment. They are eligible to apply for reimbursement of these costs through the CVC fund. The CVC fund is statutorily the “payer of last resort,” so if a victim has medical insurance it will be billed first.
It’s a relief–if only a small one, since there are similar accusations in a number of other states, and a horrifying number of rape kits still go untested.