L.D. 1587 Testimony

Testimony of the Maine Medical Association
Neither For/Nor Against
L.D. 1587, An Act to Provide Economic Security to Maine Families through the Creation of a Paid Family Medical Leave System

Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development
Room 208, Cross State Office Building
Wednesday, February 7th, 2018, 10:00am

Good Morning Senator Volk, Representative Fecteau and members of the Committee. I am Gordon Smith, of East Winthrop, and I serve as Executive Vice President of the Maine Medical Association, which represents the interests of more than 4200 Maine physicians, medical students and residents in training. The mission of the Association is to support Maine physicians, advance the quality of medicine in Maine, and promote the health of all Maine citizens. 

L.D. 1587, creating a paid family and medical leave system in Maine, is an important proposal worthy of your careful consideration. The Maine Medical Association supports the concept of paid family medical leave, but also believes that this proposal, as drafted, needs some changes and more vetting of the costs and benefits of such a social insurance program.

We fully support the concept of parents having an opportunity to take an adequate amount of paid leave to care for a newborn infant, a sick child, or a sick or disabled parent. But, we have misgivings about including an expanded list of relatives for care-giving such as in-laws. 

We also believe that caring for newborn infants should warrant 12 weeks of leave rather than the 8 weeks in the proposal. There is ample medical evidence of the benefits to a child of having three months at home with mom. Twelve weeks is important to the health of the mother, as well. 

We are generally in support of the law addressing a worker's own serious health condition, caring for a family member with a serious health condition, or dealing with the death of a family member.

And while there is some experience in states with paid family medical leave, most of the laws passed in other states are so recent that there is not yet much data to examine regarding the uptake of the benefit, and the impact to both large and small businesses in a variety of small, medium, and large states. Therefore, we recommend that an actuarial study be conducted to further develop this proposal, and better estimate the amount of assessment of wages that would be required to adequately fund the program.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify on the proposal and I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.