Monthly Archives: April 2017

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    Legislature passes bill to reimburse for 12-month birth control refills

Legislature passes bill to reimburse for 12-month birth control refills

April 12th, 2017|

Insurance carriers will be required to reimburse refills for birth control for 12 months at a time instead of monthly under legislation passed today by the Senate. Having already passed the House, the bill now goes to the governor to be signed into law.

Currently insurance providers do not have a uniform rate at which they dispense birth control. House Bill 1234 requires that women receive a full year’s worth of contraceptives unless they request less.

Numerous studies document the benefits to increased access to contraceptives. One in four women say they have missed pills because they could not get a new pack in time. Dispensing one-year’s worth of birth control reduces the odds of an unintended pregnancy by 30 percent.

“There are all kinds of medical conditions for which women take birth control pills in addition to reproductive health,” said Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver and the ranking member on the Senate Health Care Committee. “By making birth control pills more accessible, we make it easier for women to manage their health and live healthier lives.”

The bill also will help women who live in areas far from a pharmacy or those who are studying or working abroad. While legislatures across the country continue to attempt to restrict reproductive health care coverage for women, Washington state continues to lead the way in access to contraceptive care.


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    SW WA delegation bill to start effort on new I-5 bridge passes House

SW WA delegation bill to start effort on new I-5 bridge passes House

April 6th, 2017|

Legislation establishing a process to open discussion on a replacement Interstate-5 bridge spanning the Columbia River is one step closer to being sent to Gov. Jay Inslee following its passage today in the House of Representatives on a 59-37 vote. The bill had previously passed the Senate on a 45-4 vote, but since a few technical aspects were amended by the House prior to passage, the differences must now be reconciled between the two chambers before the bill can finally be sent to the governor to be signed into law.

Senate Bill 5806, sponsored by Senators Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, Ann Rivers, R-La Center, and Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, proposes the creation of a joint Oregon-Washington legislative action committee to address a variety of concerns including the process for developing a new I-5 bridge. It lays out a structure based on months of discussions between regional lawmakers of both parties.

A House companion bill sponsored by Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver, HB 2095 takes the same approach. Wylie’s bill was also sponsored by Representatives Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver, Paul Harris, R-Vancouver, and Brandon Vick, R-Vancouver.

Key to the collaboration between the bipartisan coalition of seven southwest Washington legislators was an agreement to begin a process that starts with local legislators and stakeholders, Cleveland said.

“We all agreed that as legislators the only successful course was to take a bipartisan approach and lead on this process,” Cleveland said. “Our challenge is to develop a process that will allow for the best, most efficient and sensible solution.”

“We’ve worked together to set clear rules on how any discussion of a project should proceed,” said Wilson. “This is an important step for an open and collaborative process. We want to make sure any project is carefully and deliberately discussed before any commitment is made to a specific plan.”

“This legislation represents an opportunity to wipe off the slate and take a new look, together with Oregon, at what might be possible,” said Rivers. “What this does not do is lock anyone into a project. The joint committee this bill creates would act as a sort of ‘bridge authority,’ in my view, that is free to consider other crossings or investments to meet regional transportation needs. As someone who has long thought a third-crossing option deserves serious consideration, I wouldn’t have supported this legislation if it didn’t allow that kind of flexibility.”

Cleveland credited Wylie’s commitment to shepherding her Senate bill through the House just as Cleveland helped steer Wylie’s bill in the Senate. “Without Rep. Wylie’s strong efforts to move the legislation through her chamber, we might not have been able to take this crucial first step forward on what is likely to be a long journey to build a new I-5 bridge,” Cleveland said. “This very balanced legislation is the culmination of months and months of collaboration between colleagues in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle.”

SB 5806 also appropriates $350,000 for the Washington State Department of Transportation to conduct an inventory of existing data related to the construction of a new I-5 bridge over the Columbia River.

“We have valuable existing data that can expedite our efforts to move forward with a new bridge,” Cleveland said. “Culling this data can get us off to a running start as opposed to starting from scratch.”

Cleveland noted that the existing drawbridge is a choke point that averages 400 collisions a year; by 2030, when the bridge carries increasingly more vehicles and increasingly larger pieces of equipment by truck, the number of collisions is projected to double.  In addition to the need for improved safety and reliability, Cleveland sees a new replacement I-5 bridge as being critical for future economic growth.


For interviews:         Sen. Annette Cleveland, 360-786-7696

Sen. Lynda Wilson, 360-786-7632

Sen. Ann Rivers, 360-786-7634


For information:       Rick Manugian, Senate Democratic Communications, 360-786-7569

Jess Honcoop, Senate Republican Communications, 360-786-7869

Eric Campbell, Senate Republican Communications, 360-786-7503

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    Bill to raise awareness of options for breast cancer patients passes full Legislature

Bill to raise awareness of options for breast cancer patients passes full Legislature

April 6th, 2017|

The public will be better informed of the availability of insurance coverage for breast reconstruction and prosthesis, under legislation passed 97-0 today by the House of Representatives. As Senate Bill 5481 had already passed unanimously in the Senate, it now goes to the governor to be signed into law.

“Given the choice, nearly 60 percent of breast cancer survivors opt for reconstruction while others may choose to wear external prostheses, but the important thing is for everyone to know they have those options,” said Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver and the bill’s sponsor. “Too many patients don’t realize reconstructive surgery and prostheses are covered by their insurance, either because they aren’t informed of their options or because they process only a fraction of the information that is shared with them at the time of diagnosis, which can be a highly stressful time.”

Cleveland’s legislation directs the state Health Care Authority to work with the state Department of Health (DOH) to develop a plan for distribution of information to better educate breast cancer patients on the availability of breast reconstruction following a mastectomy and prostheses or breast forms as an alternative to breast reconstruction surgery. The bill also requires the Office of the Insurance Commissioner and DOH to provide educational materials about insurance coverage for breast reconstruction and prostheses.

“This bill will help ensure that accurate information on all options is available to patients prior to making important, life-changing decisions,” Cleveland said. “This will help many women simply by increasing awareness.”

Cleveland learned of the need for this legislation through the Pink Lemonade Project, a local advocacy group, and understood the importance of this issue due to her own mother’s diagnosis, treatment, recovery and recent recurrence of breast cancer.


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    Cleveland bill to ease medical faculty recruitment heads to governor

Cleveland bill to ease medical faculty recruitment heads to governor

April 5th, 2017|

The Elson Floyd College of Medicine at Washington State University and any other medical school in Washington state will be better able to recruit physicians to serve on their faculties, as a result of legislation passed today by the House on a 91-6 vote. Having already passed the Senate unanimously, the bill now goes to Gov. Jay Inslee to be signed into law.

Senate Bill 5413, sponsored by Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, updates state laws to extend practices already in place at the University of Washington (UW) School of Medicine. When the guidelines were originally written, they addressed only UW since its medical school was the only one in the state at the time. This bill corrects that arbitrary restriction.

“Until now, physicians from outside Washington state have been blocked from becoming fully licensed, making it difficult for medical schools to recruit faculty,” Cleveland said. “This will open the doors to experienced, capable physicians and allow our medical schools to recruit and retain the best faculties possible. This bill also creates an additional pathway to full licensure. More pathways for licensure means Washington’s citizens will have greater access to expert medical care and consultation.”