Hoping to recover more than $107 million in outstanding federal student loans, government officials are withholding Medicare and Medicaid payments to so-called “deadbeat” doctors.
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala released the list of 1,402 names on Tuesday, putting on notice health care professionals who have not begun repaying their federally guaranteed Health Education Assistance Loans. Nearly all of the debtors are doctors, with some of their loans dating back to 1979, when the loan program for students in the health care field was established.
“If they’re making any attempt at repayment, they would not be on this list,” said Claude Earl Fox, acting administrator of HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration.
Those named, he added, are individuals with whom “nothing seems to work.”
The full list of names will appear in the Federal Register this week, and was posted Tuesday on the Department’s Web site at http:/ /www.defaulteddocs.dhhs.gov.
Under the announcement, the defaulters are barred Tuesday from serving the 74 million elderly, disabled and low-income Americans covered by the federal Medicare and Medicaid health insurance programs.