Anna Eshoo floats wig bill for alopecia sufferers

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.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood

    “That said, this seems like the kind of thing which could spark debate over what Medicaid should and shouldn’t cover.”

    It should also spark debate over what Congress should and should not cover. Bills like this are the best argument for a part-time congress.

    They didn’t have time to read the “stimulus” bill but they have time for this kind of nonsense.

    What next–a bill to stamp out demeaning plebny?

  • That is good idea since we can have wig in quite less money that we spend on medicine and treatment of alopecia.It also looks nice on head and improve looks.