Some 1,000 healthcare workers have lost their licenses to practice in Florida due to their inability to pay off their student debt, a new report claims. The "crackdown", as described, could potentially put hundreds of people out of work, and comes as a result of student loan companies lobbying states to enact laws that punish those who default on their loans by taking away their professional licenses. However, so far Florida is the only state actually enforcing the law.
Adam Walser, an investigative reporter for ABC, found that the state Board of Health had suspended more than 900 healthcare licenses, including those belonging to registered nurses, nurses assistants and pharmacists, over the last two years. There are additionally 12 other states that still have the power to take away healthcare licenses for unpaid student loans. However, officials in those states said that they haven’t suspended any licenses over the last two years.
States like Montana, Oklahoma, North Dakota and New Jersey have already repealed laws that have allowed for license suspensions over unpaid student loans.
Attorney Christie Arkovich, based out of Tampa, says that the laws go too far. “We’re not saying that people shouldn’t repay their loan. We’re just saying that getting them fired probably isn’t the best way to go about that,” she commented, although she did not provide a suitable enforcement alternative.
Following suit, Dr. Gabriel Picone, an economics professor at University of South Florida, said that suspending licenses for nonpayment of student loans puts a strain on both employers and patients: "it’s trying to take too much away. This person may end up on Medicaid, receive food stamps. All this is more money that we will have to pay.”
The state has the ability to garnish up to 100% of wages before a license can be reinstated, according to the report. And for those that have had their license suspended? The only way to reinstate it is by paying the state's investigative costs and an additional 10% penalty on the balance owed.
Of course, the poetic irony is that this is the government "solution" that was created by the government, or rather the Fed, in the first place.