Healthcare workers who are responding to the coronavirus pandemic could have their public and private student loans forgiven under a new bill from Rep. Carolyn Maloney.
Maloney’s bill would forgive loans for medical school or other professional education.
Nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers would be eligible for the loan relief, though a special commission would ultimately determine eligibility.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney introduced a bill on Tuesday to forgive public and private student loans for healthcare workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.
The bill would forgive loans incurred from medical school or other professional education, and the amount of loans relieved would have “absolutely no cap,” Maloney said on a press call.
Nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers who are responding to the COVID-19 crisis would be eligible for the relief. A special commission would be formed “to determine whether an individual has made significant contributions to the medical response.”
The bill defines a frontline healthcare worker as a “doctor, medical resident, medical intern, medical fellow, nurse, home health care worker, mental health professional, or other health care professional,” as well as medical students providing COVID-related health services.
Laboratory staff and researchers working on testing, treatments, and vaccines are also included, as are emergency medical services (EMS) workers. The bill leaves room for the commission to further include other healthcare workers that weren’t specifically mentioned.
Families and estates of healthcare workers who died due to the coronavirus would be relieved of those workers’ student loans.
“We should do more than thanking them,” and forgiving loans is a “concrete” way to do that, Maloney said.
Maloney, a Democrat representing parts of New York City, likened the response from healthcare workers during the coronavirus pandemic to the response from emergency first responders during the 9/11 attacks.
Other Democrats in the House have proposed more widespread student-loan forgiveness, but it would cover only public loans and have a $30,000 cap.
Maloney said she was supportive of “debt relief for all” but that a more targeted approach, like relief for healthcare workers, could have a better chance of passing Congress more quickly. “We have to get through this crisis now,” she said.
Maloney is planning to introduce the relief bill for healthcare workers as a standalone bill, rather than as a provision in a larger coronavirus relief package, which could go through long and strenuous negotiations between Democrats and Republicans in Congress.