Expansion of Paid Family Leave Act


Dear Speaker Pelosi and Leaders McConnell, Schumer, and McCarthy,

The 157 undersigned organizations, representing millions of patients and consumers from across America, urge Congress to expand eligibility for the paid family and medical leave program to include individuals determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to be at high risk for adverse complications from COVID-19 and working members of their households. This policy will allow those at highest risk to remain home for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and will help ensure their health and safety.

Currently, paid family medical leave provides support only to those with children or adults with disabilities whose local school district or usual care providers are closed due to the pandemic. This policy does not go far enough. The hardworking Americans who have been advised by the CDC to remain home are only eligible for up to two weeks of financial support and job protection of expanded paid sick leave. This places individuals who live with significant health conditions such as cystic fibrosis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, organ transplants, sickle cell and others with a devastating choice: place their health or their loved one’s health at risk by going back to work or lose their jobs altogether. Additionally, adults living with family members who are immunocompromised also need access to this support to help protect these vulnerable Americans.

At this time of great uncertainty in our country, it is important to understand that certain individuals are at much higher risk of adverse health events and death associated with COVID-19 than the rest of the population. Although recent research indicates the overall fatality rate from COVID-19 is around 2 percent, individuals with certain health conditions experience a greater rate of severe complications and have higher fatality rates from COVID-19. Research performed by the European Respiratory Society found thati:

  • 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

Further, researchers at Johns Hopkins University have found that patients with cancer have a 5.6 percent fatality rate and those with cardiovascular disease have a 10.5 percent fatality rate.ii

These very startling statistics demonstrate why individuals with serious health conditions and other risk factors, as identified by the CDC, and working members of their household should receive job protection

and financial support through paid family leave. We call on 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

In this extremely uncertain time for our country, we believe Congress can come together to provide some certainty for Americans who are afraid that their health or the health of a loved one will be placed at risk should they continue to work. We urge Congress to act swiftly to enact these changes.

Sincerely, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Caregiver Action Network

Academy of Oncology Nurse and Patient Navigators

CARES Foundation Inc.


Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY

Allergy & Asthma Network

Children’s Cancer Cause

ALS Association

Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation

Alstrom Syndrome International

Chronic Care Policy Alliance

American Association on Health and Disability

Chronic Disease Coalition

American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association

Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy and Innovation

American Diabetes Association


American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Congenital Hyperinsulinism International

American Kidney Fund

COPD Foundation

American Liver Foundation

Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation

Angioma Alliance

Cure HHT

Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired

Cure SMA

Association of Oncology Social Work (AOSW)


Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

Cystic Fibrosis Research, Inc. (CFRI)

Autistic Self Advocacy Network

Danielle Byron Henry Migraine Foundation

Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network

Davis Phinney Foundation

Axis Advocacy

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Beyond Type 1

Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition (DPAC)

Brain Injury Association of America

Disability Rights California

Bridge the Gap – SYNGAP Education and Research Foundation

Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund

California Access Coalition

Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children

California Chronic Care Coalition

Dystonia Advocacy Network

Dystonia Medical Research Foundation

National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities

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