House committee releases free menstrual products, medical student loan grant bills
The House Health and Human Development committee released legislation aiming to help students who need access to menstrual products.
House Bill 29 would require public and charter schools to provide free menstrual products to at least half of their bathrooms. Committee members unanimously sent it to the House floor.
Menstrual products are a necessity for many students, and can sometimes get in the way of learning, says Susan Conaty-Buck, representative of the Delaware Coalition of Nurse Practitioners.
“You know, when students don’t have access to affordable feminine hygiene products, they might miss multiple days of school every month, and they will also be uncomfortable in school when trying to figure out some way to get their needs served," Conaty-Buck said. "When students have accessible, high quality feminine hygiene products, they are able to continue with their daily lives with minimal disruption.”
The bill doesn’t specify the gender of restrooms that require menstrual product dispensers, only saying they need to be in at least half of bathrooms used by students who can have a menstrual cycle.
This leaves it up to schools to decide whether or not put them in boys bathrooms for transgender students who may menstruate but not identify as female.
The bill would cost public and charter schools a total of around $77 thousand dollars annually to restock the dispensers daily, and $28 thousand dollars to install them.
State lawmakers are also looking for ways to bring new doctors into underserved parts of the state.
The House Health and Human Development committee released House Bill 48, which would create a new health care provider loan repayment program in the state.
State Rep. David Bentz (D-Christiana) says his bill is needed even more now than when it was introduced last year.
“Obviously health care practices in general have been very hammered by COVID just like everybody else," Bentz said. "A lot of people aren’t taking their annual visits, their general check-ups and things like that and it has impacted the bottom line of a lot of practices.”
He adds there just aren’t many medical school graduates coming into Delaware to practice primary care.
Both of these factors have led to many primary care providers turing to concierge care, closing down, or being absorbed into larger primary care networks, increasing costs for Delawareans.
This bill allows providers to get up to $50 thousand dollars a year for 4 years to pay off their student loans, provided they practice in underserved parts of the state.
The money will come from a one time, $1 million dollar grant from Delaware insurers, with hospitals also matching grants dollar-for-dollar for any doctors working there.
The bill now heads to appropriations, where the funding will need to be approved and incorporated into the budget before heading to a full vote on the House floor.