By DAVID HANOVER Associated PressBOULDER, Mont.
(AP) A bill that would let the state opt out of accepting the face transplant surgery procedure that has been the most popular among young people in recent years is being considered by the Montana Legislature.
Republican state Sen. David Hanson has introduced the bill.
It would also allow the Montana State Board of Plastic Surgeons to approve the procedure without a waiver, which would prevent the state from participating in the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ face transplant program.
Hanson says the bill protects the health and well-being of the state’s patients, and the bill would allow the board to determine whether a patient has a genetic or physical condition that would make the surgery medically necessary, or if the patient is a person of reasonable health and fitness.
The state would then choose to opt out, and would not be required to pay for the procedure.
The House has already passed the bill, and is scheduled to consider it later this week.
The measure is a response to the rising number of young people who have undergone plastic surgery.
The number of people in the state who had a face transplant in the past five years has nearly tripled from the previous five years, according to the Center for Medical Progress, an advocacy group.
It’s also the highest number in nearly a decade.
Hansen says the federal government needs to step in to provide financial support to young people before the state has to.
“We’re just really seeing a need for the federal help, and if that means putting up with a face of someone who’s not our own, then we have to do it,” Hanson said.
“The bill we’re introducing today, if we pass, would make that happen.”
Hanson has filed legislation in the last few weeks to require that the state must accept the face surgery if a state-appointed board approves it, but it’s not clear if that bill will pass.
The bill would also provide a list of criteria to the board that would help it decide whether to accept the transplant.
The Board of Surgeons could not be reached for comment on the bill on Monday.
A spokesperson for the Montana Department of Health said the board’s board is responsible for approving or denying face transplants.