Women’s health advocates ready to drum up support for legislation

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Friday, June 30, 2017

WASHINGTON – A recently introduced bill seeking Medicare coverage for wigs is an exciting step forward for women’s health, say advocates.

“It’s a relatively inexpensive DME item but it certainly carries a lot of importance for a woman undergoing chemo—the hair loss is an extremely difficult piece,” said Mary Aframe, owner and founder of Women’s Image Center in Worcester and Leominster, Mass., who has worked for nearly 12 years to try and get a bill introduced. “This is quite exciting.”

The bill, H.R. 2925, introduced June 15 by Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., would allow wigs to be covered as durable medical equipment under Medicare, as long medical professional such as a dermatologist, oncologist or attending physician could certify it as a medical necessity as part of rehabilitative treatment.

“The language of the bill is very beneficial in that it covers anything that is medical hair loss, as long as it is prescribed by a medical professional,” said Nikki Jensen, vice president of Essentially Women, a division of VGM.

Many private insurers already pay for wigs, says Aframe, who said a high-quality synthetic wig costs around $350.

While it’s exciting that a bill as been introduced, there is a long road ahead to getting it passes, says Jensen.

“We need to gain momentum with the House bill and then be able to get a Senate companion introduced as well,” she said. “We need to get the word out.”

Essentially Women will launch a grassroots campaign using email and social media to reach its members to raise awareness and gain support to get H.R. 2925 passed. Providers are encouraged to message their members of Congress and use the phone script to call their representative through the VGM Action Center.