'Sloppy and reckless:' Rape victims billed by Cape Fear Valley Health for rape kits

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Cape Fear Valley Health is responding after Rape Crisis of Cumberland County sounded the alarm about rape victims being billed for their rape kits.

According to Rape Crisis of Cumberland County, at least 17 rape victims were billed for the services.

Cape Fear Valley Health said it is not the company's policy to charge victims of sexual assault for forensic examinations.

According to the health system, in May 2019 they converted to a new Electronic Health Record and changed their process for registering patients.

"We recognize that some errors were made prior to the implementation of a new electronic health record in May 2019," a Cape Fear Valley Health spokesperson said in a statement. "We apologize for any bills sent in error."
Bills show charges as high as $3,900.

While Deanne Gerdes, the executive director of Rape Crisis of Cumberland County, knows of 17 survivors who were billed, she worries there are others who have been charged and were too embarrassed to challenge it.

Gerbes said while looking at one of the bills, she saw that insurance paid $2,300, "which by the general statute says you don't do."

State law explicitly states that bills should not be sent to victims.

SEE ALSO: Proposed NC law calls for $6M to test 15,000 backlogged rape kits

The legislation explains that a program has been sett up and state funds will pay for these tests.

"It's a financial burden, right? You're being billed for evidence," said Gerdes. "A rape kit is evidence and you're now being billed for being a victim of sexual assault."

She called the whole thing "sloppy and reckless."

Since the change, patients are now registered as Victim's Assistance to enable the health system to apply for reimbursement from the state Victim's Assistance fund, according to the health system.

Victim's Assistance cases are paid by the state when a police report has been filed and funds are available. Otherwise, charges are written off by Cape Fear Valley as charity care.

The Cape Fear Valley Health spokesperson said patients who may have received the bills should bring them to their attention so that the charges can be reversed.

Gerdes said the damage is irreversible in some cases. Some bills have already gone into collection.

"Even when we get it off, their credit numbers are still affected. It's layered, but more importantly it just should not be happening," she said.
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