WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) – A group of lawmakers in Washington are pushing for more benefits for healthcare workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
They argue doctors and nurses should receive the same benefits and protection given to our law enforcement and military.
“They know we need them. They’re meeting the moment,” Representative Norma Torres, D-California, said.
Norma Torres says like soldiers preparing for battle, our health care workers who treat COVID patients suit up and risk their lives every day.
“And it is time congress meet the moment for them,” Torres said.
So she wants to provide doctors, nurses and medical staff the same benefits soldiers receive.
“We are asking these medical professionals to go at it without anything to protect themselves,” Torres said.
Torres is calling for the next coronavirus aid package to include survivor benefits for families of health care workers who die of COVID-19, as well as hazard pay, whistle-blower protection, and housing costs for those living away from home while they work.
Torres says the plan is also an acknowledgement of the trauma and emotional toll that healthcare workers face, especially during this pandemic.
“We haven’t looked at the human side of that profession,” Torres said.
“They face death themselves. That is the reality of a healthcare worker on the front lines,” Representative Mark Takano, D-California, said.
Congressman Mark Takano was one of 76 lawmakers, including at least one Republican, to endorse the plan.
He says beyond the benefits, it sends a message to hospital executives who’ve punished their workers for going public about a lack of proper PPE.
“The American people need to rise up and tell these healthcare companies, treat your employees with respect. They need to be able to speak up about unsafe conditions,” Takano said.
The proposed benefits would not extend to healthcare workers beyond the current pandemic.