Kelly Looks to Extend Paid Leave to Health-Care Workers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly introduced legislation Thursday that would extend paid leave to health-care workers and offer liability protections to hospitals and other medical providers from certain lawsuits during the COVID-19 emergency declaration.

When the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act was enacted, it exempted hospitals and other health-care facilities from the requirement to offer paid leave to health-care workers because the extent to which the pandemic would affect the health system was not yet known and the country needed its health-care workers on the job, according to a news release from Kelly’s office announcing the new legislation.

Kelly’s legislation – House Resolution 7538, the Essential Workforce Parity Act – would provide leave to health-care workers who contract COVID-19, the cost for which is eligible for reimbursement by the federal government under FFCRA. In addition, it would also offer specific targeted legal protections to health-care providers while they grapple with the complexity of treating COVID-19 patients. 

“Our doctors and nurses are on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic risking their own health to treat the worst cases of COVID-19,” said Kelly, R-16 Pa. “The Essential Workforce Parity Act will guarantee that our health care heroes are treated fairly if they get sick while also ensuring their primary focus can be on helping patients, not fighting lawsuits.”

The legislation received support in whole or in part from two key organizations, the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania and the Health Coalition on Liability Access.

“Pennsylvania hospitals’ first priority is the safety of health-care workers and the patients they treat. This is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Andy Carter, president and CEO of HAP. “During these difficult times – where the situation and guidance is constantly changing –we must allow health-care workers and facilities to focus on caring for every patient who needs care rather than worrying about the threat of meritless lawsuits.”

HCLA specifically endorsed Section 3 of H.R. 7538. “The limited and targeted protection from liability provided by Section 3 will help ensure that health-care professionals and facilities on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic can focus on helping patients without fear of getting drawn into unwarranted lawsuits,” the organization said in a letter.  

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.