Now that the economic stimulus package has been signed into law, members of Congress are turning their attention to more niche-oriented legislation.
Take for example Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, who today introduced the Alopecia Areata Medicaid Improvement and Parity Act to improve Medicaid coverage for those affected by alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder resulting in loss of body hair.
Most Americans suffer from mild forms of the condition, but Eshoo says about 30,000 have alopecia areata totalis — loss of all scalp hair — or alopecia areata universalis — a complete loss of all body hair. There’s no known cure, and very few treatments are successful.
“This legislation will improve the quality of life for the thousands of people who suffer from alopecia. We can’t allow Americans who are suffering from the disease to continue enduring harassment and mistreatment because of the inadequate coverage by Medicaid,” Eshoo said in her news release.
She says H.R. 1142 will improve Medicaid coverage for those with the disease by reimbursing for one hair prosthesis — a custom-made wig — per year; an estimated 5,000 out of nearly 50 million Medicaid beneficiaries will qualify.
Joke you might, but I know someone who had a bout with alopecia, and it was no laughing matter for him. That said, this seems like the kind of thing which could spark debate over what Medicaid should and shouldn’t cover.