One person can still make a difference
Published 12:15 pm Wednesday, December 13, 2000
By By STEVE WINDOM
One person can still make a difference.
Vanessa Elliott, a Fayette woman who traveled alone to the Alabama State House and put the spotlight on an Alabama tragedy, ended the tragedy with a law that bears her name.
The Alabama Medicaid Agency told Ms. Elliott, who lost both breasts to cancer last November, that breast reconstruction surgery was not covered. Thanks to Vanessa, no Alabama woman will ever receive that answer from Medicaid again.
On May 11, the Alabama Senate sent Vanessa's Law, which requires Medicaid to cover breast reconstruction surgeries following mastectomies, to the governor's office for signature.
Less than a month after Ms. Elliott called the office of Lt. Gov. Steve Windom for help, and less than a month after she bravely faced the Capitol media corps in a news conference, the bill passed the Legislature without a dissenting vote.
Ms. Elliott underwent the first portion of her surgery to reconstruct her breasts on May 9, the day the Alabama House of Representatives passed the bill 81-0. Because the House added an amendment to clarify the bill, it was sent back to the Senate on Thursday where it once again received a 35-0 vote.
After calls to other state officials had given her little hope, Ms. Elliott went to the Fayette County courthouse to ask for advice. Someone there told her to call Charley Grimsley, who is Chief of Staff to Lt. Gov. Windom.
Lt. Gov. Windom thanked several people who were involved in the effort to pass Vanessa's Law.
Lt. Gov. Windom said the person who deserved the most thanks was the bill's namesake.