Latest news on Congressional action on medical student loans

Discussion in 'General International Discussion' started by azskeptic, Dec 13, 2005.

  1. azskeptic

    azskeptic Senior Member
    7+ Year Member

    Oct 13, 2003
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    Med school calls for another rescue By Jeffrey Young
    In 1983, the U.S. armed forces invaded the tiny Caribbean island of
    Grenada, in part to rescue American students studying at the St.
    George's University School of Medicine. Present-day students at the
    school and two others are now the target of an obscure provision
    tucked into the budget- reconciliation bill that would cut off their
    student loans. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) offered the language as
    part of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee's
    contribution to the massive budget bill. As House and Senate
    negotiators inch toward a conference agreement on the legislation, the
    three foreign-based medical schools are furiously working to protect a
    lucrative stream of federal funding. According to DeVry Inc., the
    for-profit education company that owns Ross University School of
    Medicine on the island of Dominica, St. George's, Ross and the
    American University of the Caribbean on St. Maarten provide medical
    education to more than 3,500 American students who return to the
    United States after their studies to practice medicine. According to
    Sessions, these schools are tantamount to diploma mills that were
    "created to serve American students who cannot get into American
    medical schools." Americans choose to study in the islands because
    there are too few open spaces in domestic medical schools to
    accommodate them, countered Sharon Thomas Parrott, DeVry's senior vice
    president for government and regulatory affairs. Sessions emphasized
    that he is not trying to target unfairly these Caribbean medical
    schools but instead wants to transfer the loan money that their
    students currently receive to students at medical schools on U.S.
    soil. "We are working desperately to maintain a strong student-loan
    program," Sessions told The Hill. "You need to ask yourself what your
    priorities are," he said. "I'm of the strong view that we need to be
    thinking about how to improve our own, world-class medical schools,"
    Sessions said. Both Sessions and Thomas Parrott cited a looming
    shortage of doctors in the United States to support their cases. The
    American students who study at the Caribbean schools continue their
    education in residency programs in the United States and must pass
    American certification exams to practice medicine, Thomas Parrott
    said. "We're about to reduce our healthcare capability" if the
    language is included in the final bill, she said. Sessions suggested
    that the current situation weakens the quality of healthcare in the
    United States. Because of the shortage of available residents,
    teaching hospitals are "so desperate to get bodies, they'll take them
    from any school." He further observed that the for-profit owners of
    these three Caribbean schools stand to lose a large amount of their
    tuition if his language is adopted. "That's big money to them," he
    said. Thomas Parrot said that more than 90 percent of Ross
    University's medical students are American and that about 80 percent
    of the students receive federal financial aid. The school processed
    $53 million in federal loans during the 2004-2005 school year, she
    said. The legislative language is in flux as the conferees debate the
    budget bill, Sessions said. House members have made the lion's share
    of the objections, he noted. Thomas Parrott identified Rep. Howard
    "Buck" McKeon (R-Calif.), chairman of the Education and the Workforce
    Committee's 21st Century Competitiveness Subcommittee, as a supporter
    of DeVry's position. Meanwhile, final action could come as early as
    today on the appropriations conference report for labor- health and
    human services, which would slash programs funding the education of
    doctors and other medical professionals by more than half.

    Med school calls for another rescue

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