Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley is teaming up with her colleague Rep. James McGovern to do something life-changing for people who suffer hair loss due to medical conditions.
The notable Squad member has introduced a bill that would help affected individuals cover the cost of wigs, something that Medicare doesn’t typically insure, Vanity Fair reported. Pressley, who is the first African American female to be elected to Congress in Massachusetts, said that she hopes to achieve this by recategorizing cranial prosthetics, or medical wigs, as “durable medical equipment” which could potentially be covered under the Social Security Act.
“It’s a simple legislative fix, and I think it’ll have a profound impact,” Pressley said of the big move. In addition to Alopecia victims, the bill would also provide coverage for cancer patients who may experience hair loss due to chemotherapy treatments. The Congresswoman said that cranial prosthetics can be expensive, sometimes skyrocketing up to several thousands of dollars. This could pose a major problem for people with low or fixed incomes like seniors. The bill is reportedly called the Wigs as Durable Medical Equipment Act, according to Essence.
It’s an issue that hits home for Pressley who was also diagnosed with Alopecia last year. Alopecia or Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disease that attacks healthy hair follicles causing hair loss, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
“I’ve only been bald in the privacy of my home and in the company of close friends,” Pressley said during an emotional interview with The Root last year.
“I do believe going public will help,” she continued. “I’m ready now, because I want to be freed from the secret and the shame that secret carries with it. Because I’m not here just to occupy space — I’m here to create it. I didn’t have the luxury of mourning what felt like the loss of a limb. It was a moment of transformation — not of my choosing.”
“I am making peace with having alopecia…But I’m making progress every day… It’s about self-agency, it’s about power, it’s about acceptance,” she added.
McGovern, who is the ranking member of the House Rules Committee, introduced the bill in 2018, right before Pressley took office. The Congressman shared that he was inspired by the politician’s work with women undergoing physical changes caused by a number of medical conditions. He said the idea to steer the bill towards cost-prohibitive issues stemmed from her outreach.