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Kansas included on CBS investigation's list of states with highest medical bills for sexual assault victims

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A CBS investigation examines states with the highest medical bills for sexual assault victims, and Kansas makes the list.

Federal law provides free forensic exams for sexual assault victims.

However, other related costs are not always covered, leaving some victims with high medical bills, further adding to the trauma.

Officials in southeast Kansas say there is some relief available.

The Safehouse Crisis Center in Pittsburg sees an estimated 800 assault victims per year.

Executive director Rebecca Brubaker says as required by law, each victim in Kansas is not charged for a forensic exam.

"The county covers the cost of the forensic exam, but there may be extra charges if there are injuries during the assault, such as a broken arm, cuts, scratches, things like that, and they need to be admitted to the ER," Brubaker said.

At Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg, several things related to the forensic exam are also covered.

"Medication for sexually transmitted diseases, any other medications we administer, pregnancy tests, we do not charge the patient," said Wendy Overstreet, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, Via Christi Hospital.

The cost for treating other injuries, however, will fall on the patient, which is why Safehouse staff members encourage victims to apply for crime victims compensation through the Kansas Attorney General's Office.

"We've seen cases where we've had some pretty severe injuries and that fund did take care of those costs," Brubaker said.

The compensation fund can cover up to $25,000 in reimbursements.

The only drawback for some, is applicants must be collaborating with law enforcement to qualify.

"A lot of times the women don't want to get law enforcement involved because they've been threatened by the abuser," Brubaker said.

The compensation is available for up to two years after the incident and is sometimes the only way a victim can afford the medical attention needed.

"If that funding wasn't available, maybe this person would be scarred for life and not be able to take care of those physical surgeries that needed to be done," Brubaker said.

At least two attempts have been made to change federal law to expand coverage beyond forensic exams.

Both efforts failed to pass congress.
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