Arizona law now prevents sexual assault victims from medical examination bills | Arizona

Irina Baranova

(The Center Square) – Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed legislation on Wednesday to ensure that victims of a sexual crime don’t have to pay for the medical or forensic examination related to the crime.

Victims of sexual assault have paid as much as $800 for a forensic nurse visit and the collection of evidence that prosecutors will use. Ducey signed Senate Bill 1593, sponsored by Senator Sine Kerr, R-Buckeye, to change that.

“Charging victims of sexual crimes for their medical examinations is shameful, and we cannot let it happen in Arizona,” Ducey said in a press release. “There is no other crime where a victim is charged for the collection of evidence — so thanks to the leadership and advocacy of Senator Kerr and community groups across the state, we’re tightening the law with Senate Bill 1593. Arizona will continue to stand up for victims and survivors and help protect them as they recover, and I thank everyone who supported this crucial legislation.”

The law prevents health care providers from charging an intake, consultation, facility, or another fee to a patient who is part of a medical and forensic interview or examination for a sexual assault. It also prevents health care providers from billing a sexual assault patient who seeks care through a billing company or directly.

“Sending victims of sexual abuse a bill for their examinations is an unacceptable and abusive practice,” Senator Kerr said in the press release. “Senate Bill 1593 will make sure it no longer happens in Arizona. I was proud to sponsor this important legislation and work with my fellow legislators to pass it unanimously through both the House and Senate. I’m grateful to Governor Ducey for his dedication to supporting sexual assault survivors and all vulnerable Arizonans, and for signing this legislation that will protect so many people moving forward.”

Senate Bill 1593 also expands the list of sexual offenses counties have to pay for medical and forensic examinations to include statutory rape against 15 to 17-year-olds. 

Each county in the state has to publish the name of a county official responsible for paying the expenses for any medical or forensic examination. 

“Survivors of sexual violence deserve care, compassion and support,” Arizona Child and Family Advocacy Network Executive Director Trevor Umphress said in the press release. “They should never receive a bill for their medical examinations — just like every other crime. We are grateful to Governor Ducey, Senator Kerr and everyone who supported Senate Bill 1593 for their attention to this important issue.” 

The bill passed both chambers of the legislature unanimously.

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