ANNAPOLIS — Medical professionals across Maryland today released a letter urging the Maryland General Assembly to pass the Time to Care Act, which would provide Marylanders with paid family and medical leave insurance. The Senate version of the legislation is being heard in the Finance Committee today at 1 pm. The program would allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave from their work to care for themselves or family members in the event of a serious health condition or disability, or to care for a new child.
“As a physician, too often I see patients have to make the difficult choice between caring for their health or getting a needed paycheck, and this decision can have serious implications for their health,” said Dan Morhaim, an emergency medicine physician who works in Baltimore City and County. “Working while sick or injured can worsen health outcomes, but adding the stress of losing a job or income while trying to get well is also detrimental. No Marylander should have to face this situation. We hope the General Assembly will act to help Maryland residents care for themselves and their families without going broke or into debt.”
“The Time to Care Act will help parents care for a new child joining their family, just as doctors recommend,” said Natalie Spicyn, a primary care pediatrician and internal medicine doctor in Baltimore. “The financial security to take the time needed to bond with a new child, establish breastfeeding, bring the newborn in for medical appointments and for the birthing parent to attend postpartum appointments is essential for the health of both the baby and the parent. Right now, too many Marylanders don’t have the option of taking that time off without missing rent and risking eviction and homelessness, not to mention needing to be able to put food on the table. Paid Family and Medical Leave is an absolutely critical program for the health and well-being of families and communities across the state.”
Signers of the letter are included here. The full text is included below:
PHYSICIANS AND HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS SUPPORT THE TIME TO CARE ACT
As physicians and health care professionals, we support legislation to provide Marylanders with paid family and medical leave. The Time to Care Act is a responsible, reasonable and robust step toward providing fairness, equity and real relief to countless workers in Maryland who need and deserve paid time off to care for their health and well being and the health of their loved ones.
Currently, too many Marylanders can’t take time off to recover from an illness or injury, especially for longer-term health setbacks. Now, with the highly contagious and deadly pandemic continuing to spread suffering and sickness, paid family and medical leave is even more vital. Every worker should be able to stay home to recover from (or help a family member with) long-haul COVID-19, and any other illness or injury, without having to choose between a paycheck and their health.
As physicians and health care professionals, we are on the frontlines of caring for Marylanders and ensuring they are as safe and healthy as possible. When our patients are sick or injured, we recommend treatments and therapies that can maximize their recovery. When appropriate, we recommend they stay home so they can fully recover. With some illnesses and injuries, a full recovery could take days, even weeks. For many people, having a family member in the home is the best way to ensure they can follow our medical advice and get the care they need to heal, live and remain healthy.
Approximately 1.5 million Marylanders, however, can’t afford to stay home when they or a loved one are sick or injured because they don’t have paid medical and family leave. For these Marylanders who work in some of our hardest jobs, not showing up for work, no matter the reason, means no paycheck. For many of them, those missed days with no pay can have devastating consequences: missed rent payment, less food for the week, delays in buying medications, even losing their job.
Individuals without paid family and medical leave are all around us. Many of them are essential workers in diverse industries whose employers don’t provide this important benefit. They are our bus drivers and grocery workers. They care for our parents in facilities for older people, and they care for our kids in child care centers.
The Time to Care Act is a paid family and medical leave plan that is fair, equitable and the right thing to do for these individuals and their families, as well as for all of us. Building healthier communities where all working people have access to paid family and medical leave benefits those members but also strengthens our neighborhoods, small businesses, schools, and our state as a whole. In addition to reducing disease outbreaks, here are some other benefits:
The Time to Care Act supports people who must care for their families and loved ones during health emergencies.
By ensuring a paycheck, the Act encourages women and new mothers to take time off and continue to stay in the workforce when they have a baby, which allows them to fully heal while spending the crucial first few weeks bonding with their new child.
Workers who can take time to rest and recover from an illness or an injury are more likely to be healthier, and as a result more productive.
All Marylanders deserve to be able to take time off to care for their health and that of their loved ones without worrying about whether they can make the rent, feed their families or have a job to return to. All families should be able to look out for each other and remain healthy without forgoing a needed job and wages. When we all do better, we really ALL do better.
As health care professionals, we stand with the overwhelming majority of Marylanders from all backgrounds who support the Time to Care Act and want working families to have the security of paid family and medical leave. Ensuring this protection will improve the lives of millions of Marylanders while making our state healthier and stronger.
About the Committee to Protect Health Care
The Committee to Protect Health Care is a national mobilization of doctors, health care professionals, and advocates who are building a pro-patient health care majority in Congress and in states so that we can live in an America where everyone has the health care they need to thrive. To learn more: www.committeetoprotect.org