Rep. Ayanna Pressley Advocating for Medicare To Cover Cost of Wigs

In Summary

Massachusetts Representatives Ayanna Pressley and Jim McGovern reintroduced a bill that would have Medicare cover the cost of wigs for those who lost their hair from diseases and treatment. 

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley has introduced a bill that would allow Medicare to cover the cost of wigs for those experiencing hair loss due to medical treatment or disease.  

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In January 2020, Pressley revealed she had alopecia. It is an autoimmune disease that causes the cells in the immune system to surround and attack hair follicles, making the hair fall out. Approximately 6.8 million people in the United States have or will develop the disease at some point in their lives.  

Together with Representative James McGovern, the two Massachusetts leaders reintroduced the proposed legislation on September 30, the final day of Alopecia Awareness Month. Alopecia has no cure and many who suffer from it purchase wigs, but the price can be out of reach for some.  

McGovern first introduced the bill in 2018, before Pressley became Massachusetts’s first Black woman elected to Congress. Although he himself has not experienced hair loss, his daughter, who has cancer, does. “The thing she’s most worried about is having to go through chemotherapy,” he said. “Losing your hair at 20—that’s really kind of a traumatic thing.”  

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Pressley agrees and points out the change can be shocking. In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, she called losing hair as “a transformation not of your own choosing.” She also shared how being bald has impacted her self-esteem. “When you feel like your body is betraying you and you feel like less yourself—that’s already challenging,” she said. “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. It’s so much more than cosmetic.”  

If you or someone you know is struggling from trauma triggered by this story, resources are available here.   

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