A new bill introduced in the House of Representatives proposes that the federal government forgive the student debt loans of healthcare workers treating COVID-19 — some of which can total hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-New York), would allow any healthcare worker helping to treat those with COVID-19 to apply for total student loan forgiveness.
"Health care workers are worrying about their own health and how it will affect their families," Maloney said in a statement posted to her website. "They should not have to worry about their financial security after the crisis has passed."
Because the coronavirus is so easily spread, healthcare workers are among the most vulnerable in contracting the disease. In April, The Associated Press reported that healthcare workers represent between 10 and 20 percent of all coronavirus cases.
According to NerdWallet, medical school graduates are, at an average, $200,000 in debt when they leave school. The average nursing student faces an average of $24,000 when they graduate with a bachelor's in nursing.
Some politicians, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, have called on Congress to pass a bill requiring a 50 percent bonus in hazard pay for all workers. But many healthcare workers — particularly younger workers who have recently graduated college — say they would much rather prefer student loan forgiveness.
"I'm looking at a student loan debt of $318,000," Dr. Manuel Penton III, 32, told ABC News. "That few extra thousand dollars, while it may make a big difference to some people, for me, most of that money is going to go back into paying off my student loan debt."
Maloney's bill was assigned to three committees: Education and Labor, Financial Services, and Ways and Means. The bill needs to pass the committee and receive a majority vote on the House floor before moving on to the Senate. From there, the Senate must pass the bill with a majority vote and then it must be signed into law by President Donald Trump.