Senate sends Sen. Ingwersen bill to ensure public employees have access to long-term disability to Governor’s desk

Posted: May 10, 2024 | Senator Ingwersen

AUGUSTA — On Friday, the Maine Senate voted to enact and fund a bill from Sen. Henry Ingwersen, D-Arundel, that would improve access to long-term disability insurance for state employees. LD 1152, “An Act to Require Public Employers to Provide Long-term Disability Insurance Coverage,” was then sent to the desk of Gov. Janet T. Mills.

Sen. Henry Ingwersen

“All throughout the process of working on this bill, my thoughts were on my late friend and colleague, Bob Sprankle, who suffered unbearable nerve pain from a hernia operation. Because long-term disability insurance was not available to him, after using all of his sick days and taking a leave of absence, Bob was forced to return to work. The pain medication did little to alleviate his pain, and Bob set up a cot in the corner of his classroom so he could rest between teaching sessions,” said Sen. Ingwersen. “Bob is the reason I sponsored this bill, but I know it will help countless people and families across Maine.”

LD 1152 would clarify that the Maine Public Employees Retirement System (MainePERS) board of trustees must offer long-term disability insurance coverage to members through their employer, and that the public employer must provide that coverage or substantially equivalent coverage from another source to the public employee. That coverage must be offered beginning July 1, 2025. Under the bill, the state must pay 100% of the costs of the premiums and any other amounts due to an insurance company or other 3rd party in connection with the offered coverage.

MainePERS currently has a short-term disability program, but no long-term disability program. This gap in coverage can be financially devastating for Mainers with a long-term disability who are unable to work but can’t get the support they need to cover daily living expenses.

Bob Sprankle died in 2015 at the age of 52. 

LD 1152 now goes to the desk of Gov. Mills, who has 10 days to either sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to become law without her signature.