U.S. Reps. Donna Shalala (FL-27), Chrissy Houlahan (PA-6), and Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-5) have introduced H.R. 6953 , the Pandemic Responder Service Award Act, legislation that seeks to thank the millions of frontline health care workers for their service in keeping America safe throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Specifically, the legislation proposes an award for front line health care workers who responded to the COVID-19 pandemic that can be used to pay off existing student loans, to obtain further education or to establish a savings account to help health care workers purchase housing, start a business, save for retirement or establish a children’s savings account for their dependents.
“While millions of Americans have sheltered-in-place to avoid contracting this deadly virus, frontline health care workers have been bravely going to work to treat the infected and save lives,” said Rep. Shalala. “Frontline health care workers have served their communities and country at tremendous personal risk during this outbreak. This bill is the very least we can do to thank them for keeping us safe in this unprecedented time.”
“During this COVID-19 pandemic, our frontline health care workers have resoundingly and bravely answered the call to serve,” said Rep. Houlahan. “This is personal to me as my brother is a nurse. I’ve been inspired by their bravery in our community and across the country. This legislation is meant to begin the process of stepping up for our health care workers as they have so selflessly stepped up for all of us.”
“Each and every day, our medical professionals go to work unsure of what the day might bring but certain of their calling – to serve their communities in this time of unprecedented need,” Rep. Scanlon said. “We must do what we can to honor the compassion and sacrifice of our health care professionals. I’m proud to lead the Pandemic Responder Service Award Act with my colleagues in the House and Senate in order to give back to these brave Americans.”
A companion to a bill introduced in the Senate by Senator Bob Casey, if signed into the law, the Pandemic Responder Service Award Act would create a framework of benefits, inspired by the GI Bill, to show gratitude to front line health workers who fought against COVID-19.
The annual award, available for 4 years, would be equal to the average cost of in-state tuition at a public institution of higher education, – $10,000 in 2020 – but which would be adjusted for inflation. Award levels would also be adjusted based upon duration of service at risk. The Awards would be tax free and its benefits would be transferrable to spouses or direct dependents.
Any qualifying worker hospitalized with COVID-19 will receive the full benefit. Workers who became sick but not hospitalized would continue to accrue time toward benefits for the time spent quarantined/isolated.
To see the full text of the Pandemic Responder Service Award Act, please click here.
For a summary on the provisions H.R. 6953, please click here.