Nebraska’s bill aims to ease the financial burden of abuse victims

LINCOLN, Neb. (Nebraska) – An Omaha state senator has introduced a bill that would prevent the medical debt of abuse victims from being sent to collection agencies.

“These they are people who are in acute stages of trauma,” said Omaha State Senator John Fredrickson, who introduced LB315 last month. We know that sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse are underreported. One thing we want to ensure is that people in these situations are able to have the minimum possible barriers to receiving support.”

The bill was drafted by the Women’s Fund of Omaha.

“We know that victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse sometimes do not seek assistance because they are concerned about the financial consequences and their ability to afford health care,” said Erin Feichtinger of the Women’s Fund of Omaha.

As the bill works its way through Unicam, Senator Fredrickson and Feichtinger shared that there is a way for victims to get financial help to avoid incurring medical debt.

In 1979, Nebraska began the Crime Victim Reparation Program; the criteria and application are available online.

Nearly $500,000 of federal money is available to abuse victims or their loved ones through the program. However, there is only a certain amount that victims can claim.

“Health care providers can bill this fund up to $5,000 for the cost of care and rarely exceed that amount. The victim may request an additional amount of money to cover the cost of things like mental health services if the hospital bill is more than $5,000. It can cover the cost of wages lost while you were recovering.

So far, LB315 has no opposition. Fredrickson said he hopes the bill eventually lands on Gov. Jim Pillen’s desk.

“I am very optimistic that this will be challenged in a general dossier for the whole body to discuss. I’m really looking forward to this opportunity,” the state senator said.

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