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Provide Loan Forgiveness for Frontline Health Workers
We must call on Congress to pass the Student Loan Forgiveness for Frontline Health Workers Act (H.R. 6720), introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), as part of the next COVID-19 relief bill. This legislation would forgive the student loan debt of frontline health workers, including psychologists, providing care for those impacted by COVID-19. This loan forgiveness would apply to all federal and private student loans and the bill ensures that any canceled debt is not considered taxable income. Both paid and volunteer workers, including current trainees, who served for any period during a qualifying emergency, would be eligible.
Many mental and behavioral health providers are currently on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing much needed care to individuals struggling to cope with the loss of a loved one, being laid off, adapting to social distancing, as well as the fear of both the virus itself and the unpredictability of what lies ahead. These professionals are sacrificing the ability to see their families, their own safety, and in some cases, even their own mental well-being, as evidenced by the reporting on the mental health burdens being carried by frontline workers. Providing them with added financial security in return for this critical work, is the least that we can do, and Congress can do just that.
Psychologists care deeply about their patients, and work to deliver the best care possible, irrespective of pay or other forms of compensation. However, it cannot be ignored that finishing a psychology degree requires significant economic investments, including incurring substantial debt. This requires commitment and perseverance, which are the exact same qualities that psychologists—including many who are new to the profession—are bringing to the fore now as they go to the frontlines of this pandemic. As Congress develops innovative ways to recognize health care workers for their ongoing commitment to their patients during this pandemic, including furnishing them with hazard pay, enacting legislation such as the Student Loan Forgiveness for Frontline Health Workers Act, provides economic security when many need it most.
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