Monday, October 6, 2008

More on Palin & Rape Kits

Here's Jim Geraghty following up with more information regarding the Wasilla rape kit information, specifically documenting how it's the hospital's responsibility to submit the bill to the local municipality, the article quotes three people who testified before the committee --

Lauree Hugonin, director of the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, spoke at several committee meetings. She noted in response to Smith’s comment that while he had not found an instance where law enforcement has forwarded a bill, “hospitals have. It has happened in the Mat-Su Valley, on the Kenai Peninsula, and in Southeast, and that is why the bill is being brought forward.”

At another hearing, Hugonin said, “these charges occur as a result of hospital accounting procedures. The range of costs can be from between $300 and $1,000. The direct charges usually result from the accounting procedures at the hospitals and not the law enforcement agencies. She noted that there has been some difficulty in Mat-Su, Anchorage, Kenai and Sitka, and possibly in Bethel.”

Also at one of the meetings, Trisha Gentile, executive director of the Council on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault, said some Alaska hospitals "have chosen to separate some of the costs of sexual-assault exams. Hospitals are adding sexually-transmitted-disease (STD) and blood tests to the cost of sexual-assault exams, and the hospital makes a choice to bill the victim for those charges. Police departments are willing to pay for sexual assault exams, but it is an internal decision on the part of the hospital as to who pays the hospital bill."

When billed, the City of Wasilla has paid hospitals for the cost of these bills according to the Confederate Yankee. Also, according to the City of Wasilla, there is no record of a person being charged for a rape kit.

What this looks like it amounts to is the following --
  • Hospitals are supposed to charge local municipalities for rape kits.
  • When charged, Wasilla has a history of paying for the rape kits.
  • The Chief of Police said they used to charge insurance companies.
  • Palin cut out the budget item and it is unclear where the money to pay back the hospitals came from, but it was there.
  • Wasilla could have been more pro-active in trying to make sure to pay back the cost of rape kits for other people based on the statistics in Wasilla, but it is altogether difficult to track down these people after the hospital already charged them.
I'm not sure what else Palin could have done as Mayor to make certain that following sexual assault that no one was personally charged. I'm not sure what anyone could have done...


The Only Sensible Man Alive said...

The point that keeps getting missed is this: that Wasilla has no record of personally billing rape victims for their rape kits does not mean that hospitals, given that the city had no budget item to pay them from, did not.

The hospitals should not have even had a choice as to who to bill the cost of the kit to in the first place, and that is certainly something the legislature and executives of Wasilla could have undertaken.

Instead, they knowingly eliminated a budget item responsible for paying for rape kits. Consequently, they are complicit in the charging of rape victims for their rape kits, regardless of whose immediate choice it was.

M.R. Newman said...

All I'm saying is that it's officially the hospital's responsibility to make sure that the municipalities get charged. I'm not sure exactly how that process works, but that's still the process. Should the city of Wasilla's police department been more vigilant and sought out these bills? Yes. Did they pay them when they received them? Yes. I'm unsure how the city could have been more vigilant in making certain that these bills got to them besides requiring hospitals within their borders to submit any bill they receive for rape kits. But, this won't protect every person as there's the distinct possibility that in such a small community there are no more than one or two hospitals and it's easily conceivable that a person would go to a hospital outside of the city which would be beyond the scope of such a law.

I see your point that the budget item was cut, but if they're still paying for it from a different area of the budget, what does it matter where specifically the funding is coming from? But, this is me taking the "Confederate Yankee" blogger at his word about what he got from the City of Wasilla pertaining to the city paying back hospitals for these kits.