Gov. Holden signs bill to aid children with hair-loss disease

Saturday, June 21, 2003

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- A bill designed to help children affected by a hair loss disorder was signed into law Friday by Gov. Bob Holden.

The legislation would require the state employees' health insurance plan and Medicaid to pay for custom-made hairpieces for children who suffer from alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss.

"By taking this action today, we assure that even the poorest Missouri children with this disease have access to the help that will allow them to lead a more normal childhood, and we can avoid the emotional devastation that often requires counseling and mental health services," Holden said at St. Louis Children's Hospital.

As initially proposed, the bill would have required all private insurers to pay for a custom-made hairpiece, up to a lifetime benefit of $3,200, for children 18 and younger. But those provisions were narrowed to only state-funded insurance coverage.

Holden said he hoped lawmakers would revisit the issue next year and possibly expand the coverage to private health plans.

The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Betty Thompson, D-University City, who suffered from the disorder along with four of her 12 siblings.

Legislation also signed Friday by Holden would allow anesthesiologist assistants who meet certain educational qualifications to do some of the procedures of anesthesiologists.

Holden said the bill will help ease a shortage of those who can provide anesthesiology services while still maintaining quality care.

"This expansion will greatly enhance the care given to patients in operating rooms," Holden said at the St. Louis University School of Medicine.

At Logan Chiropractic College in Chesterfield, Holden signed another bill into law requiring health insurers to cover chiropractic services for ailments covered when treated by other doctors.

The governor also signed into law a bill that includes Christian Science practitioners in the definition of "minister" for the purpose of mandatory child abuse reporting.

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