Beyond Type 1 Asks Congress To Support Expanded Paid Leave For Chronic Conditions During COVID-19

4/13/20
WRITTEN BY: Jordan Dakin
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Editor’s Note: Get continuous updates about the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) here.


On April 9, Beyond Type 1 joined 156 other organizations in urging Congress to expand paid leave for those with chronic illness. In a letter to the House and Senate, the coalition of patient organizations asked that paid family and medical leave be extended to those who are at higher risk for complications from COVID-19, as well as working members of their households, with the hope that those most vulnerable will be able to remain at home for the rest of this pandemic. 

As it stands now, only those with childcare needs and parents of adults with disabilities are eligible for paid family and medical leave as a result of the Family and Medical Leave Act. Unfortunately, this current policy overlooks many living with serious illnesses and their loved ones who would benefit from being at home at this time so as not to risk serious illness and death.

Most recent research indicates the morbidity rate of COVID-19 is nearly 2 percent, but people with chronic health conditions are at risk for enduring severe complications and higher fatality rates. For instance, research shared by the European Respiratory Society found that:

  • patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have a 25 percent fatality rate
  • patients with diabetes have a 10 percent fatality rate
  • patients with hypertension have a 10.4 percent fatality rate
  • patients with cerebrovascular disease have a 20 percent fatality rate

Meanwhile, research conducted at Johns Hopkins University found that patients with cancer have a 5.6 percent fatality rate, while patients with cardiovascular disease have a 10.5 percent fatality rate.

These eye-opening statistics have led Beyond Type 1 and other organizations to look to Congress to make the following changes to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

  • Expand eligibility for paid family leave to include those who have been advised by their healthcare provider to remain home during COVID-19 because of a serious health condition
  • Expand eligibility for paid family leave or additional financial support to include those who have been advised by their healthcare provider to remain home during COVID-19 so as not to endanger a loved one with a serious health condition
  • Eliminate the time limit on paid leave to ensure that these individuals can remain home as long as the COVID-19 pandemic poses a risk to their health and wellbeing and that of their loved ones
  • Ensure this program applies to employers of all sorts

With more Coronavirus legislation likely in the pipeline, it remains to be seen what steps Congress will take to protect those most vulnerable, but these are meaningful changes that can be made.

This letter was lead by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation; Beyond Type 1 signed on through our efforts with the Partnership to Improve Patient Care.

Want to get involved?

Call, email or write a letter to your representative urging them to consider expanding paid leave – use this tool to find contact information based on your location and use the template below.

Email/Letter to Legislators:

Subject: Expand Paid Leave for People with Chronic Conditions During COVID-19

Dear [Legislator title, name],

As a constituent, I urge you to expand eligibility for the paid family and medical leave program to protect Americans who are most vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic. This policy will ensure that individuals determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be at high risk for adverse complications from COVID-19 and working members of their households can remain home for the duration of this crisis. 

[IF YOU’D LIKE, ADD LANGUAGE WITH SPECIFICS FOR YOUR COMMUNITY/CHRONIC ILLNESS]

Currently, only people with childcare needs or adults with disabilities impacted by the pandemic are eligible for paid leave under the expanded use of the Family and Medical Leave Act for public health emergencies. This policy leaves out many hardworking Americans who, because of serious health conditions, may require time away from work to self-quarantine due to the risk posed by COVID-19. 

I urge Congress to make the following changes to the paid family and medical leave program created in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act:

  • Expand eligibility for paid family leave to include anyone who, because of a serious health condition that places them at grave risk from COVID-19, has been advised by their physician to remain home
  • Expand eligibility for paid family leave or additional financial support to include anyone who has been advised by a physician to remain home because there is a member of their household who has a serious health condition that places them at grave risk from COVID-19
  • Remove the arbitrary time limit on paid leave to ensure that these individuals can remain home as long as the COVID-19 pandemic poses a risk to their health and wellbeing
  • Ensure this program applies to employers of all sizes

For many people with underlying health conditions and their circles of support, the COVID-19 pandemic is magnifying existing financial and logistical burdens associated with their care. In this time of extreme uncertainty, I urge Congress to act swiftly to enact these changes to protect the health and wellbeing of those Americans most at risk. 

Sincerely, 

[Advocate Name and Address]



Jordan Dakin

Jordan earned her BA in English and Film Studies at University of California, Los Angeles. She is a passionate storyteller, traveler, and lover of people and hopes to use her experience working in tech and as a writer to advocate for the BT1 community. In her spare time, she also enjoys hiking, karaoke, and cooking for friends. Check her out on Instagram: @jordanemilydakin.