California Physician Loses Medical License For Failing To Pay Student Loan Debt
The California Osteopathic Medical Board suspended the license of a local physician who had failed to repay his student loan debt, which totaled almost $1 million. Furthermore, the physician, Herman Benjamin Bell, 59, had also obstructed federal authorities' efforts to collect the debt by submitting false statements about his financial situation.
As a result of the joint efforts of the United States Attorney's Office and the California Attorney General, Bell's medical license was suspended in a disciplinary order that became final last month.
While attending the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific in the mid 1980s, Bell borrowed two federal Health Education Assistance Loans. He later defaulted on the loans due to failure to make payments.
In an attempt to collect the loan debt, the United States Attorney's Office filed a lawsuit against Bell in July of 1991. According to the United States Attorney's Office for the Central District of California, Bell was then ordered by a federal judge in Los Angeles to pay $412,871.84.
As of January 2005, the balance of the outstanding student loan debt had risen to $949,518.54 due to interest and penalties on the loans.
The California Attorney General then held a proceeding before the Osteopathic Medical Board of California in May of 2006. The state charged that Bell's failure to pay on his student loan debt along with his obstruction of the government's collection efforts constituted unethical and unprofessional conduct.
In November of 2006, Bell agreed to a settlement in which he accepted the suspension of his medical license. Bell was ordered by the court to repay the student loan debt that he had accrued over the span of almost two decades.
As this is the first time California authorities have prosecuted a medical doctor for unprofessional conduct for failing to repay a student loan, it has set a precedent for similar cases that may follow.
Article Title : California Physician Loses Medical License For Failing To Pay Student Loan Debt
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