Establishes a domestic violence forensic examiner program.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the public health law and the executive law, in relation to establishing a domestic violence forensic examiner program
PURPOSE: To establish a statewide domestic violence forensic examiner program for domestic violence survivors.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: The public health law is amended by adding a new article 27-M. Article 27-M establishes section 3799-t regarding the treatment of survivors of domestic violence and maintenance of evidence and the establishment of a domestic violence forensic examiner program. Section 1-4 requires the commissioner promulgate rules and regulations for establishing a statewide program through which an RN or physician shall provide appropriate medical services to survivors, as well as provide a report on or before November 13, 2016 evaluating the program.
Section 2 amends section 631 of the executive law by adding a new subdivision 18 which provides that when any state accredited domestic violence forensic examiner or licensed health care provider furnishes services to a survivor of domestic violence, the health care giver shall provide such services at no charge and shall bill the office directly. The office, in consultation with the DOH, shall determine which services shall be covered by a newly established domestic violence forensic examination reimbursement fee. The office, in consultation with the DON, shall establish the reimbursement fee program and its regulations. The reimbursement rate shall not exceed $650 dollars. A domestic violence survivor may also have the option to utilize any private benefits for the forensic examination in which case the forensic health care provider may not charge tile office. The domestic violence survivor mar decline to provide such information regarding private benefits if he/she believes that it may interfere with personal privacy or safety.
JUSTIFICATION: The Family Justice Center of Erie County is home to the only Forensic Medical Unit. (FMU) in all of NY State dedicated to domestic violence, thanks to the partnership with University of Buffalo Family Medicine. These full-time Registered Nurses document end photograph (via electronic body mapping) client injuries using high-tech digital camera equipment. This documentation is immeasurable in its ability to detect injuries that traditional hospital photographs cannot detect; the high tech equipment can also detect pooling of blood under the skin from incidents like
strangulation; as one example. These visual records, which can take four or more hours to produce, are then used by the District Attorney in prosecutions, if the client wishes to press charges. Additionally, the FMU nurse testifies at trial, as required.
The Forensic Medical Unit is one of the agency's most sought after services and the Eric County District Attorney calls the records generated by the FMU "invaluable" leading to increased plea bargains and higher conviction rates. The increased plea bargains, thanks to the FMU, save taxpayers the skyrocketing expense of trial. The DA's office has put area hospitals on notice to send all domestic violence victims to the Family Justice Center for injury documentation, informing hospitals that traditional photos are not suitable evidence for court. Not only does it save taxpayers money but it saves victims the trauma of testifying at a trial along with avoiding the trauma of being examined at a hospital; where the evidence is NOT permissible in court. The forensic medical unit documentation is permissible in court with conviction rates almost 100% of the time.
This legislation will allow for sustainability of FMU in the Family Justice Center as a "one stop center" and will allow for evaluation and expansion, over time, of forensic medical units in other Family Justice Centers throughout New York State.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New Bill.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: To be determined.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 6889 IN SENATE April 4, 2012 ___________Introduced by Sen. GRISANTI -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Health AN ACT to amend the public health law and the executive law, in relation to establishing a domestic violence forensic examiner program THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. The public health law is amended by adding a new article 27-M to read as follows: ARTICLE 27-M DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FORENSIC EXAMINER PROGRAM SECTION 2799-T. TREATMENT OF SURVIVORS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND MAINTE- NANCE OF EVIDENCE; DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FORENSIC EXAMINER PROGRAM ESTABLISHED. S 2799-T. TREATMENT OF SURVIVORS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND MAINTENANCE OF EVIDENCE; DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FORENSIC EXAMINER PROGRAM ESTABLISHED. 1. THE COMMISSIONER SHALL ESTABLISH A PROGRAM IN THIS STATE THROUGH WHICH A TRAINED NURSE PRACTITIONER, PHYSICIAN'S ASSISTANT, REGISTERED NURSE OR PHYSICIAN SHALL PROVIDE APPROPRIATE FORENSIC EXAMINATIONS AND RELATED MEDICAL SERVICES TO SURVIVORS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. 2. THE COMMISSIONER SHALL, IN CONSULTATION WITH THE COMMISSIONER OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE SERVICES, DESIGNATE FACILITIES LOCATED IN THE STATE AS OFFICIAL SITES FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FORENSIC EXAMINER PROGRAMS. 3. THE COMMISSIONER SHALL PROMULGATE SUCH RULES AND REGULATIONS AS MAY BE NECESSARY AND PROPER TO CARRY OUT EFFECTIVELY THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION. PRIOR TO PROMULGATING SUCH RULES AND REGULATIONS, THE COMMIS- SIONER SHALL CONSULT WITH RELEVANT POLICE AGENCIES, FORENSIC LABORATO- RIES, AND OTHER SUCH PERSONS AS THE COMMISSIONER DEEMS NECESSARY. SUCH RULES AND REGULATIONS SHALL: (A) IDENTIFY ANY CRIMINAL OFFENSES SUBJECT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION; (B) PROVIDE DEFINITIONS FOR EVIDENCE COLLECTED IN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASES, AND (C) REQUIRE EACH FACILITY TO CONTACT ITS LOCAL POLICE AGENCY AND FORENSIC LABORATORY TO DETERMINE THEIR SPECIFIC NEEDS OR REQUIREMENTS.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD14934-01-2 S. 6889 2
4. ON OR BEFORE NOVEMBER THIRTIETH, TWO THOUSAND SIXTEEN, THE COMMIS- SIONER SHALL PROVIDE A REPORT TO THE GOVERNOR, THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE AND THE SPEAKER OF THE ASSEMBLY, CONCERNING THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FORENSIC EXAMINER PROGRAM ESTABLISHED UNDER THIS SECTION. SUCH REPORT SHALL INCLUDE AN EVALUATION OF THE EFFICACY OF SUCH PROGRAM IN OBTAINING USEFUL FORENSIC EVIDENCE IN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASES AND ASSUR- ING QUALITY TREATMENT TO SURVIVORS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. SUCH REPORT SHALL ALSO RECOMMEND WHETHER THIS PROGRAM SHOULD BE EXPANDED AND SHALL ESTIMATE THE FINANCIAL COST, IF ANY, OF SUCH EXPANSION. S 2. Section 631 of the executive law is amended by adding a new subdivision 18 to read as follows: 18. NOTWITHSTANDING ANY OTHER PROVISION OF LAW, RULE, OR REGULATION TO THE CONTRARY, WHEN ANY NEW YORK STATE ACCREDITED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FORENSIC EXAMINER PROGRAM OR LICENSED HEALTH CARE PROVIDER FURNISHES SERVICES TO A SURVIVOR OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, A HEALTH CARE FORENSIC EXAMINATION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE EVIDENCE COLLECTION PROTOCOL AND STANDARDS ESTABLISHED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, SUCH DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FORENSIC EXAMINER PROGRAM OR LICENSED HEALTH CARE PROVIDER SHALL PROVIDE SUCH SERVICES TO SUCH PERSON WITHOUT CHARGE AND SHALL BILL THE OFFICE DIRECTLY. (A) THE OFFICE, IN CONSULTATION WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, SHALL DEFINE THE SPECIFIC SERVICES TO BE COVERED BY THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FORENSIC EXAMINATION REIMBURSEMENT FEE. (B) THE OFFICE, IN CONSULTATION WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, SHALL ESTABLISH A DIRECT REIMBURSEMENT PROGRAM AND SHALL GENERATE THE NECES- SARY REGULATIONS AND FORMS FOR SUCH PROGRAM. THE RATE FOR REIMBURSEMENT SHALL BE THE AMOUNT OF ITEMIZED CHARGES, NOT TO EXCEED SIX HUNDRED FIFTY DOLLARS, TO BE REVIEWED AND ADJUSTED ANNUALLY BY THE OFFICE IN CONSULTA- TION WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH. THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FORENSIC EXAM- INER PROGRAM OR LICENSED HEALTH CARE PROVIDER SHALL ACCEPT SUCH REIMBURSEMENT AS PAYMENT IN FULL FOR SUCH SPECIFIED SERVICES. NO ADDI- TIONAL BILLING OF THE SURVIVOR FOR SUCH SERVICES IS PERMISSIBLE. (C) A SURVIVOR OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE MAY VOLUNTARILY ASSIGN ANY PRIVATE INSURANCE BENEFITS TO WHICH SHE OR HE IS ENTITLED FOR THE HEALTH CARE FORENSIC EXAMINATION, IN WHICH CASE THE HOSPITAL OR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER MAY NOT CHARGE THE OFFICE. A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FORENSIC EXAMINER PROGRAM OR LICENSED HEALTH CARE PROVIDER SHALL, AT THE TIME OF THE INITIAL VISIT, REQUEST ASSIGNMENT OF ANY PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE BENEFITS TO WHICH THE SURVIVOR OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS ENTITLED ON A FORM PRESCRIBED BY THE OFFICE. SUCH SURVIVOR OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SHALL BE ADVISED ORAL- LY AND IN WRITING THAT HE OR SHE MAY DECLINE TO PROVIDE SUCH INFORMATION REGARDING PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE BENEFITS IF HE OR SHE BELIEVES THAT THE PROVISION OF SUCH INFORMATION WOULD SUBSTANTIALLY INTERFERE WITH HIS OR HER PERSONAL PRIVACY OR SAFETY AND IN SUCH EVENT, THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FORENSIC EXAMINATION FEE SHALL BE PAID BY THE OFFICE. SUCH SURVIVOR OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SHALL ALSO BE ADVISED THAT PROVIDING SUCH INFORMATION MAY PROVIDE ADDITIONAL RESOURCES TO PAY FOR SERVICES TO OTHER DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SURVIVORS. IF HE OR SHE DECLINES TO PROVIDE SUCH HEALTH INSURANCE INFORMATION, HE OR SHE SHALL INDICATE SUCH DECISION ON SUCH FORM PROVIDED BY THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FORENSIC EXAMINER PROGRAM OR LICENSED HEALTH CARE PROVIDER, AS PRESCRIBED BY THE OFFICE. S 3. This act shall take effect immediately.