New Congressional Bill Aims To Wipe Out Medical Costs For Sexual Assault Survivors

While today, sexual assault is very much a crime, it wasn't always treated as such when it came to the victims. In fact, it wasn't until 1994, when then-Senator Joe Biden entered a new bill called the Violence Against Women Act, that sexual assault was seen as a federal crime, per National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV). After this bill was passed, victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as the local communities, were given better resources to help victims and stop the violence against women. The biggest part of this act was the fact that women no longer had to pay for their own forensic exams after an assault

While this act was a step in the right direction, victims of sexual assault were still receiving a bill in the mail from insurance or medical companies, per NBC News. In fact, as many as 18,000 survivors in 2019 with private insurance received a bill for their care, averaging at $3,551 out of pocket. But a new congressional bill has recently been introduced that would prevent this from happening and erase medical costs for all sexual assault and domestic violence survivors.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

The No Surprises for Survivors Act will aim to eliminate medical costs altogether

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) helped survivors of sexual assault, but according to Med Page Today, many survivors were still getting large bills for their treatment following the assault. In fact, according to a recently published study by The New England Journal of Medicine, there is a hole in the VAWA that allows healthcare facilities to still bill for things like laceration repair, counseling, HIV prevention, emergency contraception, and even diagnostic testing –- all standard treatments following a sexual assault.

This new bill, the No Surprises for Survivors Act, will help to fill that hole. According to Fierce Healthcare, the new bill will require private insurance companies to foot the entire bill for medical care following sexual assault. In addition, per Med Page Today, the bill would also categorize forensic medical exams as emergency care and cover care for survivors who are unable to disclose what happened to them, another misstep that is not covered by the VAWA act. Supporters of the bill hope this will also allow more survivors to come forward and seek treatment for their injuries. The bill will now get passed to the House for consideration.