New bill proposes student loan forgiveness for health care workers on front lines of COVID-19 fight

FILE -Medical workers stand outside NYU Langone Health hospital as people applaud to show their gratitude to medical staff and essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic on April 29, 2020 in New York City. ( Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images )

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., introduced a bill on Tuesday that would forgive all federal and private student loan debt for front line healthcare workers risking their lives to fight the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Front line health workers are delivering care to the sickest patients and putting their own safety at great risk in order to keep doing their jobs,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney. “And in return, I believe that we have an obligation to ensure that they are relieved of the debt they incurred to train for this critical work – in graduate degree programs or other professional certification.”

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The news came as Democratic law makers push for hazard pay for medical workers overwhelmed by the virus. Sen. Chuck Schumer, of New York, called for up to $25,000 “heroes” pay for front line healthcare workers.

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It has not been determined who would qualify for the loan forgiveness under the bill, but a news release from Maloney’s office said that the forgiveness program would apply to “workers who have made significant contributions to COVID-19 patient care, medical research, testing and enhancing the capacity of the healthcare system to respond to this urgent crisis.”

Another House bill, which was proposed in March, included widespread student loan forgiveness capped at $30,000, which some say is not enough, as medical students on average owe approximately $200,000 according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

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Maloney’s legislation, however, aims to take the loan forgiveness further by alleviating crippling student debt completely for healthcare workers who have used those loans for training that has eventually led them to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. 

“Healthcare workers are worrying about their own health and how it will affect their families. They should not have to worry about their financial security after the crisis has passed. That is a burden that we can lift right now. And this bill will do that. It will help take care of the people taking care of all of us,” added Maloney.