by Aimee Berger-Girvalo
Last week the Governor announced the launch of a new Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) website that provides resources and tools for Connecticut employers and employees. This one-stop-shop will centralize important information and resources needed, and is a portal to critically important information regarding rights, roles, and responsibilities as it relates to the PFML program.
The Paid Leave program goes into effect on January 1, 2021 and for many, that date cannot come soon enough. With the COVID-19 crisis still looming, and in many places surging, we must do all we can to ensure that the safety, health, and wellbeing of our family members is prioritized — no one should have to choose between their family and their job.
PFML improves financial security and keeps people in the workforce and it helps employers — especially small businesses — save on costs. Now more than ever, we have an urgent and pressing need for inclusive paid family and medical leave but also for meaningful, affordable and accessible healthcare options. The COVID-19 crisis has and continues to expose the gaps and inequities in our healthcare system, and while it did not create these problems, it showed that we can’t ignore them because this crisis goes beyond the pandemic.
Connecticut has an opportunity to set the standard, as we did with Access Health CT. It should be a standard that gives everyone in state a right to quality medical care. Implementing such a system just adds up: Healthcare is an overwhelming burden on our small businesses, and we need to help get them back on their feet, and by taking the burden of providing healthcare away from small businesses, there are benefits that go beyond what’s on the surface. We’re talking about benefits not only to working families but to small businesses, entrepreneurs, start-ups, and even big businesses — all as an element of economic recovery.
The fact is, our taxes are high enough in Connecticut, and we should be getting something back for it. More than just Paid Family Leave. According to an article in the CT Mirror last year, in 2019 almost 200,000 residents were uninsured, and while there’s no recent data to point to, it’s hard to imagine that number has decreased. Our state’s unemployment is at 8% and it hasn’t been this bad since the Great Recession.
Establishing a healthcare system that assures care for everyone would include public oversight, cuts and control of wasteful spending, and removal of financial roadblocks, while encouraging preventative care and choice of physician. Most importantly it would mean that everyone in the state of Connecticut would have access to good quality healthcare.
Aimee Berger-Girvalo is Vice Chair of the Democratic Town Committee and the Democratic candidate for the 111th District seat in the State House of Representatives.