This bill would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish the “Megan Rondini and Leah Griffin National Sexual Assault Care and Treatment Task Force” to identify barriers to improving access to sexual assault forensic examiners, sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs), and other forensic medical examiners.
The task force’s membership would include representatives from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Health and Human Services Immediate Office of the Secretary, the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Indian Health Service, the Office for Victims of Crime of the Department of Justice, the Office on Women’s Health of the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Office on Violence Against Women of the Department of Justice.
It’d also include a survivor of sexual assault, as well as representatives from regional and national organizations that collectively have expertise in forensic nursing, rape trauma or crisis counseling, investigating rape and gender violence cases, survivors’ advocacy and support, sexual assault prevention education, rural health, and responding to sexual violence in Native communities; representatives from hospitals, patient groups, and emergency department physicians; and state representatives.
The task force’s objectives would be to:
Identify barriers to the recruitment, training, and retention of sexual assault forensic examiners, sexual assault response teams, sexual assault nurse examiners, and others who perform such examinations;
Make recommendations for improving access to medical forensic examinations, including the feasibility of, or barriers to, utilizing mobile units and telehealth services;
Make recommendations for improving coordination of services, other protocols regarding the care and treatment of sexual assault survivors, and the preservation of evidence between law enforcement officials and health care providers;
Make recommendations for updating national minimum standards for forensic medical examiner training and forensic medical evidence collection relating to sexual assault;
Make recommendations for the development of resources and best practices described in subsection for inclusion on tHHS’ public website;
Make recommendations on the collection and retention of sexual assault kits, including anonymous or unreported sexual assault kits;
Make recommendations on processes and best practices for communicating to sexual assault survivors who seek care in the emergency room information about the availability of forensic medical evidence collection as part of the care and treatment of such survivors;
Make recommendations to develop, promote, and inculcate trauma-informed approaches (as defined in subsection (g)) in the treatment of sexual assault victims through training, leadership and supervision;
Make recommendations to inform the development of protocols to use when patients seeking medical forensic care have not yet reported a crime to law enforcement, including developing guidance related to presenting patients with their options when they request a medical forensic exam; and
Obtain feedback and review how the best practices, protocols, care, and treatment for sexual assault are impacting sexual assault survivors in States with laws or procedures that address any of the task force’s previous objectives. This includes Texas, Washington, and Illinois, and the impact of charging patients for sexual assault forensic exams.
The task force would submit its findings to the HHS Secretary no later than 18 months act this bill’s enactment, after which time the HHS Secretary would post resources and best practices for treating individuals for sexual assault to HHS’ public website. These resources and best practices would include:
Resources for health care providers, including best practices for training personnel on sexual assault forensic evidence collection, best practices relating to providing counseling and appropriate referrals to such individuals; and other resources and best practices determined appropriate by the HHS Secretary;
Resources for sexual assault surviviors, including information about the forensic exam furnished by a sexual assault forensic examiner, including the process and potential benefits of collecting evidence, information on available State-wide databases of sexual assault nurse examiner-ready or sexual assault forensic examiner-ready facilities, survivor advocacy group websites and hotlines, next-steps guides for survivors with best practices for preserving evidence and seeking treatment after an assault, and other resources and best practices determined appropriate by the HHS Secretary.
On an annual basis, the task force would meet to address gaps in health care health care provider care relating to sexual assault and report findings, recommendations, and conclusions to the HHS Secretary in a timely manner.