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  • Washington Highlights

    House, Senate Bills Address Foreign Medical School Access to Federal Student Loans

    Matthew Shick, Sr. Director, Gov't Relations & Regulatory Affairs

    Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) joined Representatives Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Michael Burgess, MD, (R-Texas) April 5 in introducing the Foreign Medical School Accountability Fairness Act of 2017 (S. 850, H.R. 1922). The AAMC has endorsed the legislation, which is the same bill introduced the 114th and 113th Congress [see Washington Highlights, May 22, 2015].

    The measure would eliminate a grandfathered exemption of certain foreign medical schools from current Department of Education requirements for federal student loans. As a result, the bill ensures all medical schools outside of the U.S. and Canada enroll at least 60 percent non-U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and their graduates must have at least a 75 percent pass rate on the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE). Any U.S. student enrolled before the enactment of the legislation would retain access to Direct Loans.

    In a press release on the bill’s introduction, Sen. Durbin stated, “Our bill would bring much-needed accountability to for-profit medical schools in the Caribbean for taxpayers and help ensure that American students receive a quality education that prepares them to practice medicine in the United States.”

    In support of the measure, the press release notes, “The average attrition rate at U.S. medical schools is 3.4% while rates at for-profit foreign medical schools have been known to reach 30%. Students who do graduate do so with much more debt and a much lower likelihood of finding a residency, which is mandatory for practicing medicine in the United States. In 2016, foreign-trained, American graduates had a residency match rate of 54%compared to 94% of graduates of U.S. medical schools.”