WADA has long advocated legislative action to ease the debt burden of medical students. The demands of the COVID-19 pandemic have prompted hundreds of fourth-year medical students to take up duty before graduation, where they have now been joined by the rest of their peers to help ease the pain. most difficult public health emergency of our lives.
Now is the time to extend a relief measure to these and other health professionals in the form of an expanded student loan forgiveness, tuition relief efforts and increased funding for students. scholarships and grant programs.
The need is clear. Over three-quarters of all medical students graduate with a median debt load of approximately $ 200,000 related to medical education, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. The median level of medical student debt has nearly doubled over the past two decades, according to data compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics.
For many medical school graduates, the ability to repay these loans becomes even more difficult due to a number of factors. For example, medical students – like others who pursue higher education – pay higher interest rates than undergraduates. In addition, interest begins to accrue immediately; there is no deferral of interest during tuition, as is the case with many types of undergraduate student loans.
WADA continues to enthusiastically support a wide range of initiatives designed to alleviate the crushing debt burden of medical education and training. Several measures supported by WADA are currently pending in Congress to achieve these goals, as outlined below:
We support the provisions of the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES) as passed by the United States House of Representatives earlier this month, which would provide an additional $ 30 billion for loan repayment programs. and scholarships administered by the National Health Service Corps. (NHSC).
This action would strengthen the ranks of health professionals in underserved communities across the country, with a particular focus on communities of color that have historically lacked access to health care resources and suffered high rates of infection and disease. higher deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The HEROES Act would also increase NHSC’s annual funding from $ 310 million to $ 1 billion, with a corresponding increase in grants and loan forgiveness.
WADA is also urging Congress to pass the Frontline Healthcare Worker Student Loan Forgiveness Act (HR 6720), which would offer full loan cancellation to physicians, residents and medical students who bring their own. life at stake to provide COVID-19 worry.
Another measure pending in Congress that has drawn our support is the Rural America Health Corps Act (S. 2406), which, among other provisions, would provide for up to five years of student loan forgiveness to join the NHSC, instead of the two standards. years.
During this pandemic, and long after we have ended it, the doctors and other healthcare professionals who have risked their own lives so selflessly, as well as that of their families and loved ones, should be able to focus only on childbirth. the best possible medical care for as many people as possible, rather than worrying about how they will repay the student loans that allowed them to provide that care in the first place.
At the same time, the legislative remedies described here will also alleviate the crisis of health care inequalities across our country by encouraging more doctors and other professionals to apply their expertise in underserved rural and urban areas. This will have both an immediate and a long-term impact on improving the health of our nation, which has been at the core of WADA’s mission for over 170 years.