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BILL AS INTRODUCED 2007-2008

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S.112

Introduced by   Senator Campbell of Windsor District

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Criminal procedures; victims compensation

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes a number of changes to crime victims compensation procedures.  The bill:

(1)  amends the definition of the term “victim” to include a resident of this state who is injured or killed as the result of a crime committed outside the United States;

(2)  permits the victims compensation board to reimburse health care facilities at 70 percent of the billed charges for compensation claims made by uninsured crime victims;

(3)  makes confidential all reports, records, and other information obtained or produced by the victims compensation program during the processing or investigation of a claim;

(4)  prohibits health care providers from conducting debt collection activities against crime victims who have filed claims for compensation with the victims compensation board until the claim is resolved;

(5)  requires the agency of human services to provide victims of crime with coverage for health services for up to three months prior to the date of application to the Vermont Health Access Plan (VHAP); and

(6)  establishes a committee to study issues related to victims of sexual assault, including the financial costs of forensic sexual assault examination and other health care needs of sexual assault victims.   

AN ACT RELATING TO VICTIMS COMPENSATION

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  13 V.S.A. § 5351 is amended to read:

§ 5351.  DEFINITIONS

As used in this chapter:

* * *

(7)  “Victim” means:

* * *

(D)  a resident of this state who is injured or killed by an act of terrorism, as defined in section 2331 of Title 18, United States Code, as the result of a crime committed outside the United States.

Sec. 2.  13 V.S.A. § 5356 is amended to read:

§ 5356.  AMOUNT OF COMPENSATION

* * *

(c)  The board may reimburse health care facilities and health care providers as defined in section 9402 of Title 18 at 70 percent of the billed charges for compensation claims for uninsured crime victims who do not qualify for the hospital’s patient assistance program, Medicaid, or Medicare.  The health care facility or health care provider shall not bill any balance to the uninsured crime victim.

Sec. 3.  13 V.S.A. § 5365 is added to read:

§ 5365.  CONFIDENTIALITY OF RECORDS

(a)  In order to protect the confidentiality of victims, all reports, records, or other information obtained or produced by the victims compensation program during the processing or investigation of a claim shall be confidential, shall not be subject to subpoena or discovery, shall be used for no purpose other than the processing of a claim, and, except as otherwise provided by law or as provided in this section, shall not be introduced into evidence in any judicial or administrative proceeding.

(b)  Except as otherwise provided by law, no person who has had access to a report, record, or any other information under this subsection shall disclose the content of the report, record, or information or testify in a judicial or administrative proceeding about the content of the report, record, or information unless the person has been provided with written consent to do so by the direct victim or intervenor or, if the direct victim or intervenor is deceased, the claimant.

(c)  This section shall not be construed to preclude or limit:

(1)  introduction of the contents of a report, record or other information in an appeal hearing before the victims compensation board or for purposes of communicating with the prosecutor’s office regarding restitution; or

(2)  the ability of the victims compensation board to use or introduce the contents of a report, record or other information in order to respond to or assert a legal claim.

Sec. 4.  13 V.S.A. § 5366 is added to read:

§ 5366.  DELAY IN DEBT COLLECTION BY HEALTH CARE PROVIDER

(a)  When a person files a claim under this chapter, no health care provider that has been given notice of the claim shall conduct any debt collection activities relating to medical or dental treatment received by the person in connection with the claim until an award is made on the claim or until the claim is determined to be noncompensable pursuant to section 5355 of this title.  The period during which the health care provider is prohibited from conducting debt collection activities under this section shall be excluded in determining the applicable limitations period for commencing an action to collect the debt. 


(b)  As used in this section:

(1)  “Debt collection activities” means repeatedly calling or writing to the claimant and threatening to turn the matter over to a debt collection agency or to an attorney for collection, enforcement, or filing of other process.  The term shall not include routine billing or inquiries about the status of the claim.

(2)  “Health care provider” shall have the same meaning as in section 9402 of Title 18. 

Sec. 5.  32 V.S.A. § 1407 is amended to read:

§ 1407.  COSTS TO BE BORNE BY THE STATE

(a)  The state shall bear the costs of medical and psychological examinations administered to victims of crime committed in this state, in instances where that examination is requested by a law enforcement officer or a prosecuting authority of the state or any of its subdivisions.  The state shall also bear the costs of medical examinations administered to victims in cases of alleged sexual assault where the victim obtains such an examination prior to receiving such a request.  These costs may be paid from the victims’ compensation fund from funds appropriated for that purpose.  The fund shall reimburse health care facilities and health care providers located in Vermont as defined in section 9402 of Title 18 at 70 percent of the billed charges for these claims, and the health care provider or facility shall not bill any balance to the crime victim.  A victim, at his or her own expense, may obtain copies of the results of an examination under this section. 

(b)  The agency of human services shall provide victims of crime with coverage for health services for up to three months prior to the date of application to the Vermont Health Access Plan (VHAP).  The agency shall seek any necessary amendments to any state plans or federal waivers necessary to implement this section. 

Sec. 6.  STUDY COMMITTEE; REPORT

(a)  A committee is established to study certain issues related to victims of sexual assault.  The committee shall examine:

(1)  the financial cost of forensic sexual assault examination and other health care needs of sexual assault victims, including best practices in other states and whether the cost of forensic sexual assault examination should be capped:

(2)  whether a victim of sexual assault should be eligible for the victims compensation program based solely on a report to a sexual assault nurse examiner.

(b)  The committee shall consist of the following members:

(1)  One member appointed by the Vermont center for crime victim services, who shall serve as chair of the committee;

(2)  One member appointed by the Vermont hospital association;

(3)  One member appointed by the Vermont center for the prevention and treatment of sexual abuse;

(4)  One member appointed by the Vermont network against domestic and sexual violence; and

(5)  a survivor of sexual assault appointed by the Vermont center for crime victim services.

(c)  The committee shall have the assistance and cooperation of all state and local agencies and departments.  The center for crime victim services shall convene the meetings and provide professional and administrative support for the committee.

(d)  Members of the committee who are not state employees shall be entitled to per diem compensation and reimbursement for expenses through the center for crime victim services to the same extent that legislative members of committees are entitled to such compensation and reimbursement under 2 V.S.A. § 406. 

(e)  The committee shall present its findings and recommendations, including proposals for legislative action, to the general assembly no later than December 1, 2007.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us