Coalition urges Senate leaders to support REDI Act

Bill would reduce student loan burden for dentists and physicians, help address workforce shortages

A coalition of some 40 organizations representing dentists and physicians, including the ADA, urged the Senate to pass the Resident Education Deferred Interest Act, which would allow borrowers to qualify for interest-free deferment on their student loans while serving in a medical or dental internship or residency program.

In a letter June 6 to Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., and Sen. Bill Cassidy, M.D., R-La., the chair and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, the coalition said the legislation would reduce student debt burden without loan forgiveness or reducing borrowers’ original loan balance and would also be a key factor in alleviating projected physician and dentist shortages and help provide access to care in underserved areas.

“As you are aware, the cost of graduate-level medical and dental education is substantial for the vast majority of students,” the letter said. “Further, those who must undertake several years of residency with very low pay are often unable to begin repaying student debt immediately. As a result, they qualify to have their payments halted during residency through deferment or forbearance processes, but they continue to accrue interest that is added to their balance. The REDI Act prevents physicians and dentists from being penalized during residency by precluding the government from charging them interest on their loans during a time when they are unable to afford payments on the principal. While the REDI Act reduces the student debt burden, it does so without loan forgiveness or reducing a borrower’s original loan balance.”

The coalition, led by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, also told lawmakers that “the ability for medical and dental residents to save thousands of dollars in interest on their loans could make the concept of practicing in underserved areas or entering faculty or research more attractive and affordable to residents.”

The REDI Act was introduced in both the House (H.R. 1202) and Senate (S 704) earlier this year.

The coalition includes the ADA, AAOMS, Academy of General Dentistry, American Academy of Dermatology Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Neurology, American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Academy of Periodontology, American Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research, American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Association of Clinical Urologists, American Association of Endodontists, American Association of Neurological Surgeons Congress of Neurological Surgeons, American Association of Orthodontists, American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American College of Emergency Physicians, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American College of Physicians, American College of Prosthodontics, American College of Rheumatology, American Dental Education Association, American Gastroenterological Association, American Osteopathic Association, American Podiatric Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Society for Radiation Oncology, American Society of Anesthesiologists, American Society of Dentist Anesthesiologists, American Student Dental Association, American Urological Association, College of American Pathologists, National Association of Spine Specialists, Renal Physicians Association, Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, Society for Vascular Surgery, Society of Interventional Radiology and Society of Thoracic Surgeons.

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