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Forensic Compliance Resources

Note:  The information on this website is designed to:  (a) communicate the requirements of the Violence Against Women Act (as reauthorized in 2005 and 2013), and (b) offer recommended practices for implementation.  The goal is to highlight examples of communities striving to achieve a higher standard of the “spirit of the law,” rather than simply meeting the “letter of the law” for VAWA forensic compliance.  It is critically important that readers consult state laws and regulations, as well as local policies and protocols, because they may have additional requirements beyond those included in VAWA 2005 and VAWA 2013.  For more information specific to your state or territory, contact the STOP Grant Administrator or coalition of advocacy organizations providing services for sexual assault victims.  A listing is available from the website for the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. 
Exam Payment Resources

The International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN) offers a Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Technical Assistance (SAFEta) project, which provides many valuable resources on a range of topics associated with medical forensic exams and exam payment. One section of their website allows you to click on each state or territory, to find a detailed summary of the exam payment process in that state or territory, along with helpful information on Crime Victim Compensation (CVC) and other pertinent information.

SAFE Payment

Many professionals have questions about the laws in their own state or territory, pertaining to forensic compliance and payment for sexual assault medical forensic exams. Answers can be found in the document entitled, Summary of Laws and Guidelines with Charts: Payment of Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations. This document was created by AEquitas: The Prosecutors’ Resource on Violence Against Women, in collaboration with EVAWI. You can download the whole 228-page document, which includes the laws and guidelines for each U.S. state and territory, as well as a number of charts summarizing the provisions. For an overview, you can also download the 13-page Summary of Laws and Guidelines.

Urban Institute Study on SAFE Payment

The Urban Institute published a study in 2014, entitled Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Exams and VAWA 2005: Payment Practices, Successes, and Directions for the Future. This research was funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and conducted by the Urban Institute in partnership with George Mason University, and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC). The purpose was to examine how states are meeting the goals of VAWA provisions regarding medical forensic examinations.

The full report is posted along with four research briefs:

Private Insurance

Insurance billing can still be used for medical forensic exams, though it will be administratively complicated because victims cannot be charged for any co-pays, deductibles or any out of pocket costs. Insurance billing can also present complications for victims, including a loss of confidentiality. For more information on this topic, the Office of Violence Against Women has compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions on STOP Formula Grants, and forensic compliance issues which are summarized on pages 21-22 (in points #3-4). The document was updated in February 2014, so it includes provisions of VAWA 2013.

Payment Across State Lines

A great deal of confusion surrounds the payment for medical forensic exams across state lines. Who should pay for these exams? How should payment be handled? The Sexual Violence Justice Institute (SVJI) at the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MNCASA) developed an informative yet simple fact sheet to offer helpful information about the policies for exam payment in Minnesota and a number of neighboring states. This tool can serve as a model for other organizations that want to create a similar resource.

Forensic Compliance – Where are we in 2012?

This EVAWI webinar with presenters Kim Day, Joanne Archambault, and Dr. Kim Lonsway examines forensic compliance issues and discusses the considerable challenges in designing protocols in areas such as: the initial response to a sexual assault disclosure, payment for the medical forensic examination, mandatory reporting to law enforcement, storage and transportation of evidence, case tracking and retrieval, processing of evidence, and the potential for evidence-based prosecution (i.e., without the victim's cooperation). For many states and territories, the changes that are required in public policy and daily practice have been described as "monumental."

Oregon SAVE Fund

In 2003, the Oregon legislature created the Sexual Assault Victims Emergency Medical Response (SAVE) Fund, which covers the costs of a medical forensic exam, medications to prevent STD’s, emergency contraception and a pregnancy test for up to 7 days, and up to 5 counseling sessions for victims of sexual assault, regardless of whether they report the assault to law enforcement or otherwise participate in the criminal justice process. It is funded with a combination of punitive damages and restitution levied against convicted offenders, as well as donations and federal matching funds.

This project is supported by Grant No. 2013-TA-AX-K045 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.
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