Washington, D.C. — Legislation providing desperately-needed financial peace of mind to patients battling cancer has been signed into law. The text of H.R. 2976, the Deferment for Active Cancer Treatment Act - introduced by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) - passed the House last week and was signed into law on September 28, 2018.
Currently, individuals are able to defer student loan payments for various reasons such as going back to school, joining the armed services or looking for a job, but active cancer treatment has not yet been qualified for deferment. The legislation enables individuals who are diagnosed with cancer to defer payments on public student loans while actively receiving lifesaving treatment without interest accruing during the deferment period, as well as a six month grace period for people who complete treatment. Estimates show more than 70,000 young adults are diagnosed with cancer each year.
“This will allow individuals undergoing cancer treatment to better focus on their health, and is something that should have been done a long time ago. I appreciate the work of Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, Rep. McCollum, and the advocacy of Critical Mass among others to ensure this was signed into law,” said Perlmutter.
“The hardships the families impacted by cancer face are only exacerbated by the financial stresses of having to meet student loan payments. This bill gives those actively undergoing live saving cancer treatment the peace of mind of not having to think about whether or not they can afford their federal student loan payments. The option to defer without accruing interest will allow patients to focus on what is important, their health,” said Ros-Lehtinen.
"Young adults are fighting for their lives within a broken cancer care system that ignores their unique needs and isolates them in treatment settings designed for young children or seniors,” said Kate Yglesias Houghton, President & CEO of Critical Mass: The Young Adult Cancer Alliance. “Every American no matter their age deserves the same opportunity to survive and thrive after a cancer diagnosis. Thanks to the leadership of Representatives Ros-Lehtinen and Perlmutter we have finally broken through and are working with policymakers to remove the unique barriers - like student loans - faced by young adults after a cancer diagnosis. I look forward to continuing this work with our champions in Congress.”
The text of H.R. 2976 was included in the bipartisan fiscal year 2019 Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.