Coronavirus: Democratic House member proposes medical student loan forgiveness

The Student Loan Forgiveness for Frontline Health Workers Act is currently in committee.

Physicians who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic may receive some financial relief from the federal government.

New York Democratic Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney introduced the Student Loan Forgiveness for Frontline Health Workers Act on May 5 in the U.S. House of Representatives in an effort to alleviate the burden of student loan debt for those on the frontlines of the pandemic and also to attract healthcare workers to lend a hand during the crisis, according to a news release.

“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,” Maloney says in the release. “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. 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. And this bill will do that. It will help take care of the people taking care of all of us.”

The act would create a federal and private loan forgiveness program for student loans to physicians, nurses, medical researchers, lab workers, and other healthcare workers who have made “significant contributions” to patient care, medical research, testing, and expanding hospital capacity as part of the pandemic, the release says.

It is endorsed by the American College of Emergency Physicians, American Medical Association, American Federation of Teachers, and the Association of American Medical Colleges, the release says.

It is currently being considered by the Committee on Education and Labor, the Committee on Financial Services, and the Ways and Means Committee in the House of Representatives.