Sunday, July 31, 2011

Government Response to Medical Student Debt?

Glenn Reynolds (aka "Instapundit") has linked to this 7/28/2011 New York Times piece, "The Hidden Costs of Medical Student Debt".

NYT writer Dr. Pauline Chen correctly notes that this may drive medical students away from lower-paying primary care careers and into higher-paying specialties. One likely response from the government already hearing too many complaints from their constituents about a shortage of primary care doctors may be to step up programs such as the "Public Service Loan Forgiveness" for new medical graduates willing to work as primary care doctors in "underserved areas".

Now I have no problem with small rural communities making private deals with aspiring doctors to help pay for their education in exchange for a promise to work there for a certain number of years (i.e., a fully voluntary version of "Northern Exposure").

But if government policies artificially raise student indebtedness, then the government later lets them off the debt hook in exchange for the government telling them where to practice (according to the latest government guidelines of course), that's different.

Then it seems a little too much like a Mafia boss telling the storekeeper that his debt to the local loanshark will be forgiven if he'll let the Mafia decide what products he can (and cannot) sell in his neighborhood store and at what prices.