Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), who has been vocal about her experience with alopecia, has introduced a bill that aims to help those living with the disease and other similar conditions. The proposed measure, unveiled on Thursday, requires Medicare to pay for wigs for those losing hair due to medical treatments or disease, The New York Post reported.
“It’s so much more than cosmetic,” the Massachusetts congresswoman said about hair loss. “It takes a real toll.”
As Blavity previously reported, in 2020, Pressley first opened up about her condition, which causes hair loss for millions of Americans. The congresswoman said she no longer wanted to hide her truth.
“My twists have become such a synonymous and a conflated part of not only my personal identity and how I show up in the world but my political brand. And that’s why I think it’s important that I’m transparent about this new normal and living with alopecia,” she told The Root.
“The Squad” member continued to open up about the disease in an interview with Vanity Fair published on Thursday.
“[To] be bald as a woman really does disrupt conventional and societal norms of what is appropriate, what is professional, what is attractive, what is feminine,” she said.
Rep. James McGovern (D-MA), who is sponsoring the bill with Pressley, shared the stories of others who are struggling with hair loss.
“Doctors have told me that patients have refused lifesaving cancer treatments because they were afraid they were going to lose their hair and didn’t know how to deal with it,” the congressman said.
McGovern’s 20-year-old daughter, who is battling cancer, finds herself in the same dilemma about hair loss.
“The thing she’s most worried about is having to go through chemotherapy,” McGovern said. “Losing your hair at 20 — that’s really kind of a traumatic thing.”
If McGovern and Pressley succeed in passing the bill, medical wigs would be categorized as medical equipment, making the wigs eligible for coverage under the Social Security Act. Currently, private insurance plans can cover wigs. Medicare, however, does not.
“Every person living with alopecia, battling cancer, or facing another medical condition that leads to hair loss, should be able to access wigs and other head coverings,” Pressley said. “Our bill is responsive and sends a powerful message to these communities: we see you, you belong, and you deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.”