A Colorado congressman supports a bill that, if approved, would suspend student loan payments for patients while they are receiving cancer treatment.

The bill, backed by U.S. Representative Ed Perlmutter D-Arvada, is part of a package that the House of Representatives is due to vote – and approve – on Wednesday. The bill has already been passed in the Senate.

“This bill will help provide patients with the financial peace of mind they desperately need as they fight their battle with cancer,” Perlmutter said in a statement. “It’s a common sense, two-party solution that helps ease the financial burden of student loans for young adults receiving active cancer treatment and encourages patients to continue repaying once they’re back in full swing.” health. “

Perlmutter introduced the bill, called the Deferment for Active Cancer Treatment Act, with Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Florida.

The purpose of the bill is to help alleviate the financial hardships young adults face after being diagnosed with cancer.

The medical costs associated with student loan repayments can be a “double whammy” for students, said Ken McConnellogue, spokesperson for the University of Colorado.

“As someone who has had cancer and who has had this treatment myself, I know that you need all the energy you can muster to fight this disease,” he said.

Undergoing cancer treatment is not only costly in and of itself, but there are other indirect costs as well, such as housing, transportation, child care and fertility preservation that young adults have to juggle all the way. seeking care, said Kate Houghton, President and CEO of Critical. Mass: The Young Adult Cancer Alliance in Washington, DC

Critical Mass helped lawmakers draft the Deferment for Active Cancer Treatment Act.

The additional expenses that cancer patients face can add tens of thousands of dollars to the debt they already have with student loans, she said.

“Where young adults are affected, it’s not in the typical places we think about,” Houghton said. “It’s not the drug prices and the payers. It’s all the other stuff.

The bill stands out in that it would allow cancer patients undergoing treatment to defer federal student loan payments without accruing interest.

Individuals can already temporarily suspend student loan payments by receiving a forbearance, but they still have to pay interest, which can accumulate over time, said Marty Somero, director of the University’s financial aid office. from northern Colorado.

“It is a very good first step and a very good thing for cancer patients, but it would be better if it were extended to other medical situations,” he said.

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