Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced the launch of Oregon's Sexual Assault Victims' Emergency Medical Response Fund. The Fund, which was enacted by the 2003 Legislature as Senate Bill 752, makes fundamental improvements in the provision of medical care and the payments for forensic examinations administered to victims of sexual assault.
The Fund dramatically improves the response to victims of sexual assault by ensuring that the costs for medical care will be paid when the victim is examined within seven days of an assault, regardless of whether the crime is reported or not. The Fund will also pay for the collection of forensic evidence and for prescriptions for the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease to assault victims. Finally, in creating the Fund, the Department of Justice, working with advocates, care providers and law enforcement, adopted a set of guidelines to better standardize the provision of care to victims and the collection of evidence for law enforcement.
"Today marks a new era in Oregon's commitment to victims of sexual assault," Myers said. "No longer will rape victims get a bill for their medical care and examinations. No longer will law enforcement agencies have to choose between the collection of evidence and the bottom line. Victims and law enforcement can properly turn their attention to the hard work of recovery and prosecution."
Prior to the enactment of the Fund, statutes required law enforcement agencies to pay for the cost of medical examinations required in the investigation of sexual offenses. This policy posed challenges for medical providers, for the law enforcement community and, most devastatingly, for victims of crime.
Hospitals and care providers were forced to distinguish, often arbitrarily, between medical care and forensic examination and then determine the proper billing mechanisms. Local law enforcement was asked to pay the medical and forensic costs with no additional funding. Absent a statewide standard, victims of crime were often left holding the bill.
The Fund will provide a centralized funding source for the medical and forensic claims arising from incidents of sexual assault. The Fund will be financed through grants, gifts and other sources. Providence Health Systems has contributed $50,000 to the Fund.
Statewide, medical service providers administer nearly 2,000 forensic examinations annually. The Fund will compensate up to $610 for exams conducted by a certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE), and $535 for exams conducted by a non-SANE medical professional.
"Developing a coordinated community response for victims of rape has long been one of my highest priorities," said Myers. "As of right now, we can proudly say that we are fully committed to the well-being of these victims and are willing to step forward and ensure we meet their fundamental needs."
Education about and coordination of the Fund will be handled by the Attorney General's Sexual Assault Task Force. The Department of Justice will administer the Fund through its Crime Victims' Assistance Section.
Kevin Neely, Justice, (503) 378-6002