In March, the New Jersey State Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill to prevent sexual assault survivors from being charged for the rape kits used to collect forensic evidence. The Assembly passed the measure in June. Months later, however, the bill remains “under review” on Governor Chris Christie’s desk prompting many advocates to ask what is taking him so long and some to start a petition demanding he take action.
Under federal law, health care providers must be reimbursed for the cost of these exams and the collection of evidence. They are supposed to look to government agencies for that coverage but bills are often sent to the assault survivor “due to administrative errors or attempts to get payment from a victim’s insurance company.”
The legislation that passed in New Jersey would prevent direct billing for any “routine medical screening, medications to prevent sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy tests and emergency contraception, as well as supplies, equipment, and use of space.”
Though it’s clear from his record (which includes “using a line-item veto to block funding in the state budget for clinics that provide family-planning services”) that woman’s rights and reproductive health are not a high priority for the Governor, it really is hard to understand why he’s dragging his feet on this bill.