For the final project for this class I decided to schedule a meeting with a representative and go over a bill that I found particularly interesting, HB 1234. This bill is nicknamed “12 months of contraceptives” and is attempting to get the private insurance sector up to speed with the federal and state insurance agencies. I’ll go more into detail about this bill later on, but first I’d like to talk about my experience scheduling a meeting and getting to Olympia.
After hearing some of the problems my classmates were having with scheduling a meeting, I was pessimistic about what my own experience would be like. I reached out to the assistant of Representative June Robinson, hoping to get an email back. Within 24 hours I had a response from a friendly and helpful woman by the name of Courtney Smith. Courtney promptly responded to each of my emails and was very accommodating. In this aspect, I believe I was much luckier than some of my other classmates.
My meeting was scheduled for Friday, March 10th , at 3:15 pm in room 332 in the John L. O’Brien building (Representative Robinsons office). After speaking with a variety of people, I decided that leaving the UW campus at 1:30 would leave me plenty of time to get down to Olympia. Unfortunately, due to an accident on the freeway, I did not arrive in Olympia until 4:30. When I realized I would not get there in time for my meeting, I called Courtney and explained my situation. Representative Robinson and Courtney were extremely understanding and helpful. I arrived in Olympia at 4:30, and was able to have a brief meeting with Representative Robinson (about 15 minutes) before she had to leave to get to another meeting. At this time, Courtney and I had a meeting to go over the bill in depth.
As previously stated, the main objective of HB 1234 is to get private insurance agencies to offer some of the same benefits as state and federal insurance agencies. Currently, state and federal insurance agencies are required to offer their enrollees 12 months of contraceptives all at once, whereas the private insurance agencies are only required to provide their enrollees with one month of contraceptives at a time. This means that women are required to go to the pharmacy every month (though some insurance agencies offer three months at one time) in order to fill their prescription. Studies show that when women have access to their whole years worth of contraceptives, unintentional pregnancies are much lower than if they are required to fill their prescription each month.
The main objections to this bill come from the private insurance agencies. Providing 12 months of contraceptives all at once is a large lump sum. My suggestion to improve the bill, and to increase its probability of getting passed, was to allow for a transitional period of 1 year for the insurance agencies to make the switch. During this transition period, the insurance agencies would only be required to provide their enrollees with six months of contraceptives at once, as opposed to all 12 months. After this period they would be required to provide the full 12 months, as the bill currently states. Courtney recognized this suggestion as a good idea, however because the bill was recently passed out of the House and into the Senate, there will be no further changes to this bill unless it does not get passed this year.
Overall, my experience in Olympia was pleasant and informative. If there’s ever a bill in the future that I feel strongly about, I won’t hesitate to go speak with someone about it!