Deadbeat doctors, dentists stick taxpayers with student loan bills

California has most in nation with a total of 361


Payback can be a bitter pill for the nation's deadbeat doctors.

The government has seized tax refunds and unemployment checks, claimed judgments against them in federal court, banned them from billing Medicare and Medicaid, even posted their names on a public shaming list.


Yet 930 medical professionals nationwide remain in default, owing the government more than $116 million for loans many stopped repaying more than 18 years ago. Among them:

-- Detroit dentist Duane Senior, 55, has been on the default list since 1997 and reported owing $651,783 as of Nov. 1. A graduate of Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn., Senior works in a small dental practice.

-- Dr. Larose McCluskey, 61, of Cheney, Wash., an osteopathic doctor who graduated from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in 1987, owes the most of anyone on the list -- $933,675. The initial federal claim against her in 1998 was for $222,055. She practiced family medicine in Washington state for about five years and then stopped to raise her four children and become a medical missionary.

-- Dr. Thomas McElhinney, 76, an Elkton, Fla., chiropractor who owes more than $572,900 for his training at Life University in Marietta, Ga. He relinquished his license to practice in 2004 and said he was never able to establish his practice. "Being a chiropractor sounded like a good idea at the time, but I couldn't earn a living at it," he said.

The last loans in the program came in 1998. This year, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) budgeted $2.8 million for the program, with more than a dozen employees tracking the deadbeat docs and monitoring 30,000 other professionals paying back more than $730 million on time.



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