If passed, a new bill could see student loan forgiveness for health care workers on the frontlines of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
On Tuesday, Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York introduced the Student Loan Forgiveness for Frontline Health Workers Act, which aims to financially support the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals who racked up, in some cases, six-figures worth of debt while seeking their degrees.
The bill would pay remaining balances on all federal and private loans for health care workers treating COVID-19 patients. Researchers working on COVID-19 treatments and cures could also benefit.
“Frontline 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 Maloney in a statement. “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."
Added the congresswoman: "Health care 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.”
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In March, the United States government implemented a six-month freeze on federal student loan payments, suspending the charges and waiving interest fees for many Americans through September, according to CNN.
According to data compiled by The New York Times, there have been more than 1.2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and at least 71,133 deaths, as of May 6.
Last month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for front line workers to be paid hazard pay, telling reporters that "we must ensure their efforts and sacrifice are appropriately recognized."
"This crisis is not over yet, and as long as these workers continue to work and expose themselves to the virus, they should be properly compensated," he said at the time.
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