There are many ways to show gratitude for the healthcare professionals that are bravely fighting the COVID-19 pandemic on the frontlines, risking their own health and that of their families on a daily basis. You can cheer for them from your doorstep, supply them with new shoes or order them pizza. But Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York has now suggested thanking healthcare workers in perhaps the most meaningful way of all: by forgiving their student loans.
On May 5, Maloney introduced a bill that would forgive public and private student loans incurred from medical school or other professional education for healthcare workers who are battling the coronavirus pandemic.
Any medical professional responding to the coronavirus crisis would be eligible for the student loan forgiveness, including licensed nurses, doctors, medical interns, medical residents and fellows, home healthcare workers, mental healthcare workers and emergency service workers.
What’s more, in a compassionate nod to those healthcare workers who lost their lives while battling the pandemic, the Student Loan Forgiveness for Frontline Health Workers Act would extend student loan relief to the families and estates of those workers who died due to the coronavirus.
Maloney is trying to usher the bill through Congress as swiftly as possible. Rather than proposing that student loan forgiveness be included in a larger coronavirus relief package, which could get tangled up in partisan squabbling, Maloney aims to introduce the student loan relief initiative as a standalone bill. In her view, targeting relief for healthcare workers specifically has a better chance of passing Congress more quickly.
“We have to get through this crisis now,” Maloney said.
If passed, this would be welcome relief indeed for healthcare workers across the country, many of whom have voiced the need for such action and have even started petitioning to receive some kind of assistance with student loans, if not forgiveness of them.
Kate Schertz, a medical resident working on the frontlines in New York City, wrote a frank op-ed for Huffington Post in which she likened her experience to that of a soldier at war. “COVID-19 veterans may have worn scrubs and white coats instead of camouflage and uniforms, but make no mistake, they will be veterans of war, a world war,” she wrote.
Schertz posited that the ultimate way to compensate these veterans for their sacrifices would be to forgive their student loan debt.
“The best way we can say thanks to our healthcare heroes is to erase the enormous financial burden of their educational debt, a cost that was required to fight and win this war,” Schertz reasoned.
Here’s hoping the bill passes quickly and these courageous professionals find the financial relief they so deserve.