Updated Heroes Act Statement
On September 28, House Democratic leadership released an updated version of the Heroes Act as a new proposal for the next legislative response to COVID-19. PAEA is encouraged that the updated Heroes Act includes a number of key priorities for PA education, many of which the Association and grassroots advocates have prioritized this year, including:
- $800 million in one-time funding for the National Health Service Corps scholarship and loan repayment programs
- $27 billion in aid to public institutions of higher education
- $7 billion in aid for private, not-for-profit institutions
- $3.5 billion in assistance for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other Minority-Serving Institutions
- An extension of the federal student loan payment and interest accrual suspension through at least September 2021
- A prohibition on the Department of Education restricting student eligibility for Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund assistance
While the updated Heroes Act includes significant fiscal support for institutions of higher education, students, and PA graduates, the bill does not include critically needed protection from liability for institutions that take appropriate precautions to prevent coronavirus exposure in alignment with public health guidelines. In a July letter to congressional leadership, PAEA highlighted the potential disruption to the health workforce pipeline that fear of liability could cause. The Association emphasized that institutional decision-making regarding in-person instruction and clinical rotations should instead be based on capacity to provide necessary protections for faculty and students.
As negotiations continue, PAEA urges congressional leadership to ensure that a final agreement includes both the fiscal relief proposed in the updated Heroes Act and appropriate liability protection to bolster the stability of the health workforce pipeline.