Shanna Porter, MSW Alumna Successfully Advocates for Hearing Instrument Insurance Coverage in Olympia

House Bill 1222 passes in the Washington State Legislature

by Mya Brossoit

Shanna Porter, a 2015 graduate of the EWU Master of Social Work (MSW) program, has successfully lobbied for the coverage of hearing instruments/aids by medical insurance, with the passing of House Bill 1222 in the Washington State Legislature, requiring coverage for hearing instruments.

When asked why she chose to get involved with advocacy work, Shanna shares, “that advocacy got involved with me, instead of the other way around.” She describes the unexpected and rare medical needs her daughter was born with, stating that there are less than 100 cases of her condition. She learned the hearing instruments her daughter needed starting at 3 months of age were not covered by insurance.  Shanna decided to move forward with advocacy work out of compassion for her daughter and other families in their situation. From her impressive work that began in 2019, she is now seeing success in the 2023-24 Washington State Legislative Session.

I learned that a few passionate people can make a significant difference.

Some of her strides towards this goal have been the creation of action steps for others to get involved in the movement. Shanna has communicated these steps with parent groups, the local deaf community, medical providers, and non-profit organizations. She has also worked to connect with a multitude of legislators and her story got noticed by KXLY News Spokane.

Because of her achievements, every few years, $3,000 is now being covered per ear. With more work still being done, Shanna hopes to increase this amount to $5,000 and “cover the full cost of aids plus fitting and molds, etc., or bone conduction devices.”

This process has taught me that everyone truly has a voice, and our local legislators are very caring.

Shanna suggests other students who wish to work in advocacy seek their passion and discover like-minded people within the process. She emphasizes the importance of asking questions and collecting advice from legislative assistants to work towards a cause.

HB 1222 was successful due to a group of diligent parents and community members fighting for their children. But instead of just children, it ended up benefiting Washingtonians of all ages. None of us had extensive policy knowledge. Instead, we asked for advice every step of the way and people were willing to help us.

Shanna gratefully acknowledges how willing and supportive local legislators are when serving their community and meeting with their constituents. She says, “start by reaching out to their office before the legislative season and asking for a time to meet.”

Porter continues to powerfully exemplify leadership, justice and courage for important causes, such as improving the affordability and accessibility of hearing instruments.  She persistently achieves new accomplishments in making our community more inclusive and compassionate towards others.

The EWU College of Professional Programs and the School of Social Work admire Shanna Porter for sharing her inspiring story, and for the relentless pursuit of valuable advocacy issues displayed within our community!