Recently, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed the federal government give front-line workers a 50 percent bonus for risking their lives during the pandemic. And while there is good intention in Cuomo’s proposal, it won’t go far for many young doctors, who on average leave medical school with $200,000 in debt, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
That’s why a new bill has been proposed to Congress that would forgive student loan debt for health care workers treating patients on the frontline of Covid-19. The bill follows a petition that was signed by more than 500,000 people last month in which people asked Congress to include student loan debt forgiveness for doctors in the next stimulus bill.
At the same time, dozens of health care organizations, including the American Medical Association, the country’s largest association of physicians, wrote a letter to Congress asking for student loan forgiveness of at least $20,000 for residents and early graduated medical students whose debt averages over $200,000. The Student Loan Forgiveness for Frontline Health Workers Act, which Maloney introduced Tuesday, goes even further.
If passed, the bill would forgive all federal and private student loans for medical professionals who are directly interacting with COVID-19 patients, including front-line doctors, nurses, aides, medical residents, interns, and technicians. It would also apply to researchers working on COVID-19 treatments and cures. In addition to supporting front-line doctors and nurses, offering loan forgiveness could help address medical worker shortages in hard-hit COVID-19 hotspots like New York City. Debt forgiveness would also alleviate the fear doctors and nurses have about dying from COVID-19 and leaving their families to pay off six-figure debts.
While the bill has yet to pass, we believe this is a powerful way for the federal government to support the heroes saving lives every day.