Beyond Type 1 Asks Congress To Support Expanded Paid Leave For Chronic Conditions During COVID-19
Editor’s Note: We have a simple goal: tap into the power of the global diabetes community to save lives. Visit coronavirusdiabetes.org to learn more about what you can do as a person with diabetes to keep yourself and others safe from COVID-19 until we’re all safe.
This article was published in April 2020.
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.