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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Are Medical School Loans like “Predatory Loans”?
Some times the only way to get peoples’ attention is to go after their money…Yes, YOUR money.  Just imagine if all of the Nation’s student loan debt went into default.  In 2017 the total US student loan debt reached $1.45 Trillion.  That total exceeds total US credit debt by $425 Billion.  Just imagine if all 50,000 unmatched doctor graduates over the last 5 years declared bankruptcy and their student loans went into default.  The average medical school debt is $183,000, but some of the unmatched doctors I have heard from have debts of $350,000, $400,000, and more.  That is a lot of student debt coming out of our tax dollars in the event of default.

Because our Nation has broken its “Social Contract” with unmatched doctor graduates, they cannot obtain the work necessary to repay millions of dollars in student loans.  They cannot obtain a license to practice Medicine in the US without a required US medical residency.  This residency shortage began when the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 capped the number of funded residency slots.  Now the number of fully qualified medical graduates exceeds the number of residency slots available.  Without a residency these unmatched doctors cannot practice Medicine.

Currently, I am asking a lawyer in my city to consider the feasibility of a class action lawsuit against the Federal Government on behalf of the unmatched doctor graduates.  Although I am not a lawyer, here is how my thinking goes.

The US division of Medical Education has created a list of requirements for medical licensure in the US.  At the same time, another division of the US government, Health/Medicare, has cut the spending necessary to complete the final step required to obtain a medical license, namely, completion of a US medical residency.  Two US departments are working in opposition to one another.  This is to the detriment of its citizens, who have followed a prescribed regimen of study, only to reach a dead end when it comes to completing the last requirement for licensure.  Would this be considered “Bait and Switch”?  You get the idea…

Recently, an L.A. Times editorial talked about predatory loans.  It defined “predatory lending” as loans “with no way to repay their original loans other than to obtain further ones”.  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will require payday and auto title lenders “to do the sort of thing banks and credit unions already do:  Before extending a loan, they’ll have to determine whether the borrower can repay it”.  The last sentence of the editorial says, “the issue here isn’t access to credit.  It’s protection from predatory lending”.

If a medical graduate cannot repay student debt because of a government whose right hand does not know what the left hand is doing, I would accuse the US Government of “predatory lending”!

1 comment:

  1. I think that the lawyer should look also at the state medical boards. These boards should allow the unmatched doctors to practice medicine at least in similar capacity of the PAs. Also, I think that there's something wrong in the policy of the boards. They limit the number of licenses indirectly by requiring residency training only with accreditation from the ACGME when they know that the accredited training doesn't absorb the unmatched doctors who constitute nearly 30% of the registered applicants according to the NRMP 2017. The denial of a license, the requirement of a license, or the procedures required to obtain a license may be challenged in court. It is true that the agency responsible for issuing the license can control the number of licensees. This function is important for activities such as hunting, where the licensing of too many hunters may deplete wildlife populations and put hunters in danger of stray bullets. But I don't think that this reasoning is valid in medicine. On the contrary, more licensees means more choices for the patients especially when they exercise their right to see second opinion. I think that the court may ask the state medical boards to consider different accreditation from the ACGME's so that the qualified doctors can do their training or the boards may choose to negotiate with the ACGME to remove some of the unnecessary regulations.