BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Gov. Bobby Jindal has issued an executive order to better protect victims of sexual assault.
The order directs hospitals and healthcare centers to bill the Crime Victims Reparation Board instead of the victims. The board was created to assist victims of crimes with financial loss, caused by the crime. The governor is also extending the time period for victims to notify law enforcement to be eligible for reparations from 72 hours to one year.
Jindal's order instructs the state Department of Health and Hospitals to act in a coordinating roll, working to define exactly what a forensic medical exam includes.
DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert said that includes any evidence, physical or by a witness, that could be used in prosecution.
"What's not sometimes considered is pregnancy testing, testing for sexually transmitted diseases," said Kliebert. She says in some cases, the costs for those tests has been passed to the victims. Those costs will now go to the reparations board.
The DHH head added, not all hospitals and healthcare centers have charged for those tests.
In October 2014, victims of rape detailed their assaults before the women and children's legislative committee. One victim, from New Orleans, spoke on how she was raped for two days by people she thought were her friends. She was billed $2,000 for testing from a hospital. None of the costs was covered by her insurance.
A mother also testified by phone that she received bills totaling more than $4,000, after her daughter was raped.
Lawmakers now say the order by Jindal is a step in the right direction, but more will need to be done during the 2015 legislative session.