Reps. McGovern, Schweikert Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Help Cancer Patients and Individuals Affected by Alopecia Areata

This bill will help ensure that every cancer patient who loses their hair can afford a wig and undergo treatment with the dignity and respect they deserve
WASHINGTON – Representatives James P. McGovern (D-MA) and David Schweikert (R-AZ) have introduced H.R. 3332, a bipartisan bill in the House of Representatives to help patients who are undergoing chemotherapy and individuals affected by Alopecia Areata.

The full text of the bill, as introduced, can be found here.

Many private insurance plans already cover wigs for those undergoing treatments that cause hair loss or who are affected by alopecia areata. This bill would help patients on Medicare pay for wigs that are not currently covered.

“Every cancer patient deserves access to quality healthcare that will help them undergo treatment with the support and dignity they need. For cancer patients who experience hair loss, a wig can mean so much, but is not always covered by their insurance,” Congressman James McGovern said. “This bill will help to change that, and ensure that every cancer patient who loses their hair can afford a wig and undergo treatment with the dignity and respect they deserve. I urge all of my colleagues in Congress to support this important bill.”

“I am pleased to see this bipartisan legislation be introduced to provide necessary resources for Medicare patients experiencing the physical changes of chemotherapy and effects of Alopecia Areata, said Congressman David Schweikert. “This legislation improves Medicare coverage by allowing seniors to have the same access to wigs that are often provided by other insurers following treatment. This is a step in the right direction for how we support our brothers and sisters who bravely fight through extremely difficult situations and I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.”

With no known cause or cure, alopecia areata is an autoimmune skin disease affecting approximately 6.8 million Americans, many of whom are children. Many individuals affected by alopecia areata utilize cranial prosthetics (or wigs) as there are currently few effective treatment options. Unfortunately, these prosthetics can come with a significant out-of-pocket cost for Americans with low or fixed incomes. This is especially burdensome for children, who often require cranial prosthetics for attending school.

McGovern first introduced the bill last year after a meeting with Mary Aframe, who runs the Women’s Image Centers located in Worcester and Leominster, Massachusetts. Aframe said she has heard from many women who are looking for a wig due to hair loss after cancer treatment – specifically breast cancer. Many were on Medicare and struggled to afford a wig, sometimes even choosing different treatment paths to avoid hair loss.

“This bill is so desperately needed. A wig is not only medically necessary as a part of a woman's physical recovery, but also for the emotional recovery that comes with going through cancer treatment, said Aframe. “Feeling confident in your new skin is paramount to overcoming the challenges and changes women face during cancer diagnosis and treatment.”