The N.C. General Assembly recently made more than $1 million available to fill a gap in the handling of evidence in rape cases. Previously, rape victims treated in emergency departments across the state — some 3,000 annually — were billed for the so-called “rape kit” that provided required evidence for prosecution. Even those with medical insurance were not likely to have the full cost paid. (See a previous Xpress report, “Rape Victims Left to Pay”.)
Now, the Legislature has carved out an appropriation — $1,078,078 — that will renew each year, as explained in today’s News & Observer. And, according to their report, bills for the forensic exam will go directly to the state or to the victim’s medical insurer. If insurance covers only a portion of the cost, the remaining balance will be billed directly to the state. The bill locked hospitals into a set rate for the exams and treatment ($800) and for ambulance transport ($200).
— Nelda Holder, associate editor