ADEC, a nonprofit agency that provides services for individuals living with an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD), respectfully request that, pursuant to the explicit authority granted to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) in the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLA), Division C of the FFCRA, and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA), Division E of the FFCRA, that DOL issue regulations defining "health care provider" for purposes of exclusion from the definition of "eligible employee" for purposes of the EMFLA and EPSLA, to include Direct Support Professionals. Direct Support Professionals, individuals who deliver care and support to intellectual and developmental disabilities (DSPs), provide essential services to this population and have worked for decades to build a structure of support that allows people to live as independently as possible. A large population of the people we support live in residential settings that require a trained employee to be physically at the site to conduct their assigned job responsibilities 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our reasons supporting our request that DSPs be defined as "health care providers" for purpose of the EMFLA and EPSLA are set forth below.
Like nurse-practitioners, nurse-midwives, physician assistants, and others recognized in the definition of "health care provider" and other persons "capable of providing health care services" under current regulations, DSPs are part of a continuum of care, and a vital part of our integrated health care delivery system. Given the critical public health services they are providing, there is a compelling need to exclude DSPs from the definition of "eligible employee" for purposes of the EMFLA and EPLSA.
We are gravely concerned, based on prior experience, that absent an exemption from the requirements of the EFMLA and EPSLA, we will lack an available workforce able to deliver much needed care to individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities. We faced such a shortage during the economic downturn of 2008, when broad-based extensions of benefits to displaced workers resulted in a lack of available workers to deliver critical care.
For these reasons, we request that DOL use the regulatory authority it is provided by way of statute to exempt from the definition of "eligible employee" for purposes of the EFMLA and EPSLA the following:
Direct Support Professionals, defined as an employee of any long term care provider of support to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through Home and Community Based Services and Intermediate Care Facilities who is providing care and support essential to activities of daily living and independence to a vulnerable population of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
By doing so, DOL will ensure that these workers will continue to provide much-needed health and medical care during this unprecedented national health emergency. For purposes of determining whether DSPs are "health care providers" under these statutes, these health care workers are no differently situated than nurse practitioners, clinical social workers, nurse-midwives, and the range of other health care professionals delivering care in an integrated health care system.
Thank you for your consideration.