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Which FL Doctors Defaulted on Loans?

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Jupiter Images
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Of 51 Florida doctors who never paid back their federal school loans, more than half are chiropractors, according to federal data compiled by Scripps Howard News Service.

While the state Health Department and professional boards can take action in such cases, they are slow to move. It took Florida’s Health Department eight years after a court found a chiropractor in default to issue an “emergency” suspension order.

Dr. Thomas McElhinney of Elkton in northeast Florida owed more than half a million dollars, Scripps Howard reported.

Around the country, 930 medical doctors have failed to pay back money they borrowed from the federal Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL), Scripps Howard reported, shorting taxpayers by $116 million.That loan program closed in 1998.

Meanwhile, the high cost of training -- $160,000 at public universities, $190,000 at private universities-- isn’t deterring students from applying for medical school, the Naples Daily Newsreported. Policy makers in Florida, seeing the need for more physicians, have pushed for more residency slots.

According to the special report from Scripps, this is the list of the Florida doctors who defaulted on their HEAL loans.

The report also includes a clickable map to find other doctors around the country who have defaulted on their government loans.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.