Washington, D.C.—More than two dozen patient groups and health care partners are joining forces to call for a comprehensive paid family and medical leave program, including caregiving leave. The groups, which include the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), ALS Association, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Organization for Rare Disorders, the Epilepsy Foundation, and others want Congress to include a national paid leave program in the proposed upcoming human infrastructure package.
The groups are advocating for a set of principles that any such national paid family and medical leave program must meet in order to best serve patients, including:
- A federal paid leave program must provide medical, parental, and caregiving leave;
- A paid leave program must have a broadly inclusive definition of family for caregiving purposes;
- Leave should include meaningful compensation/wage replacement in an amount that allows employees, including lower-income workers, to reasonably afford to take needed leave; and
- A paid leave program must be available to all workers, regardless of employer size, including part-time, contingent, and self-employed workers.
“If you or a loved one is dealing with a serious health condition, like cancer, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, or mental health issues, having access to paid time off is absolutely critical,” said Lisa Lacasse, president of ACS CAN. “These conditions can be incredibly intense, time consuming and costly. Being able to take time off to receive and complete necessary treatment, or to care for a loved one undergoing treatment, without sacrificing one’s career or overall economic well-being makes a big difference in patients’ lives.”
About one-fifth of workers in the United States have access to employer-paid family leave and only two in five have access to short-term disability insurance through their jobs that allows them to receive partial pay while they recover from their own serious health issue. Fewer than 60 percent of workers qualify for job-protected, unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and workers of color, low-wage workers and single parents are disproportionately excluded.
The groups sent their principles to Congressional leadership and the administration and plan to urge lawmakers to support paid leave for people with medical conditions and their caregivers in the coming months.
Read the principle document for more detail.
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Patient groups and partners calling for a paid family and medical leave policy: Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators, The AIDS Institute, Alliance for Aging Research, ALS Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Association of Community Cancer Centers, Black Women's Health Imperative, Cancer Support Community, Cervivor, Inc., COA Patient Advocacy Network, Community Oncology Alliance, Epilepsy Foundation, Family Voices, Hemophilia Federation of America, Mended Hearts & Mended Little Hearts, Muscular Dystrophy Association, National Alliance for Caregiving, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, National Hemophilia Foundation, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, National Organization for Rare Disorders, National Patient Advocate Foundation, Pulmonary Hypertension Association, Susan G. Komen, UsAgainstAlzheimer's, WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease and Zero - The End of Prostate Cancer.