Democratic MP proposes to forgive student loans to frontline healthcare workers

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Health workers wearing pictures of themselves outside of their PPE to help put patients at ease.
(Derek DeVault)

Health workers on the front lines of the Coronavirus pandemic would have some of their student loan debt canceled under a new bill introduced in Congress.

The “Frontline Healthcare Worker Student Loans Forgiveness Act“, introduced Tuesday by New York Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, would create a program that forgives federal and private loans obtained” to receive medical and vocational training from health workers who have made significant contributions to patient care COVID-19, medical research, testing and strengthening the capacity of the health system to respond to this urgent crisis ”, according to a Release from his office. Doctors, nurses, medical researchers, laboratory workers and other healthcare workers responding to the pandemic would be eligible, along with others who are providing support in the fight against the virus.

Maloney said there is an “obligation to ensure that they are relieved of the debt they have incurred to train for this critical job.”

“Frontline health workers are providing care to the sickest patients and putting their own safety at great risk in order to continue doing their jobs,” the Democrat said in a statement. “And in return, I think we have an obligation to ensure that they are released from the debt they have incurred to train for this essential job – in graduate programs or other certifications. professional. “

She continued, “Healthcare workers are worried about their own health and how it will affect their families. They shouldn’t have to worry about their financial security after the crisis is over. It is a burden that we can lift right now. And this bill will. It will help take care of the people who take care of all of us. “

The legislation comes as rising coronavirus cases continue to strain the medical industry, putting pressure on healthcare workers who need not only supplies, but additional staff on all fronts to fight the virus. In March, the Congress suspended payments and waived interest on federal student loans for six months. The move brought immediate relief to anyone currently repaying their federal student loans, but they will have to start payments again in October.

While Maloney’s support is important given her position as chair of the House Oversight Committee, the future of the bill is unclear as leaders in Congress negotiate another round of stimulus funding for respond to the Covid 19 epidemic. The legislation offers a political messaging tool for Democrats to draw attention to this issue, even though the bill itself has a long chance of being passed by the Senate controlled by Republicans.

The bill is co-sponsored by Democratic Representatives Marc Veasey of Texas, Yvette D. Clarke of New York, Juan Vargas of California, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and others. The American Medical Association, the American College of Emergency Physicians, the American Federation of Teachers, and the Association of American Medical Colleges are supporting the bill.

“Physicians and medical residents play a vital role on the front lines of the national COVID-19 emergency,” Matthew Shick, senior director of government relations and regulatory affairs at the AAMC told CNN Wednesday. In addition to the regular risks of providing medical care, many doctors are taking on unexpected new roles in fighting the pandemic – some voluntarily traveling across the county to help in hot spots. “

Number of confirmed cases of coronavirus across the United States has passed one million and more than 71,000 people have died.

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