Major birth defects affect around 3% of babies born in the United States and are a significant cause of infant mortality, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
One of those children is 14-year-old Aidan Abbott from Slinger, Wis., who was born with Ectodermal Dysplasia and has needed extensive oral care and reconstructive surgeries. While his family has comprehensive health insurance, they were denied coverage for his dental work, which they had to pay for out of pocket, even though most health insurance covers congenital anomalies.
In 2017, Abbott visited the State Capitol and wrote a story for his hometown newspaper about it: “I am hoping that sharing my story will help all families that struggle with insurance coverage and that will change soon.” On a follow-up trip to Washington DC, he joined a group called Little Lobbyists and met with Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis). The visit led to legislation, which Baldwin asked Abbott to name. He called it the “Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act.” (ELSA)
“Aidan’s story continues to inspire my work on this issue to guarantee that individuals born with congenital anomalies have access to the comprehensive health treatments and coverage they need,” Baldwin said Monday in a release announcing growing bipartisan support for her bill. “Despite covering all of his other medical care, his family’s insurance continues to refuse to cover his dental care needs, forcing them to spend thousands of dollars out of their own pockets. That’s why I’m working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass my bipartisan legislation and close this loophole.”
As of yesterday, Baldwin’s bill (S.560), reintroduced in February, has gained 18 bipartisan cosponsors.