A Congresswoman and a professor emerita at Indiana University have called for canceling frontline healthcare workers’ student debt, saying they are doing extraordinary service during the coronavirus pandemic.
Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney said on Thursday she plans to introduce a bill, Student Debt Forgiveness for Frontline Health Care Workers Act, proposing the elimination of graduate school debt for health care workers who are providing direct patient care in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Medical professionals in hospitals and other medical settings are operating in extraordinarily difficult and dangerous circumstances to provide care for critically ill COVID-19 patients and protect our communities,” said the Congresswoman from the 12th Congressional District of New York. “The least we can do to recognize their service is to forgive their graduate student loan debt so that they are not forced to worry about their financial wellbeing in addition to their health and the health of their families while they respond to a public health emergency.”
Meanwhile, Consuelo López-Morillas, a professor emerita at Indiana University, Bloomington, has started a petition urging legislators to cancel student debt for health professionals, similar to what Congress did by passing the GI Bill so World War II soldiers could get a college education.
Health professionals are now “like soldiers in war, saving lives while risking their own and protecting the rest of us, and many have already died while doing their duty,” says López-Morillas’ petition. “Without the debt burden more would work in lower-paying specialties like family practice, or in underserved rural and urban areas.”
Canceling healthcare professionals’ debt “would benefit both in health and economically for many years to come,” says the petition.