FMCSA plans to allow V.A. docs to issue medical certs to military vet truckers

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Updated Dec 1, 2016
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is proposing an easier path for V.A. physicians to become certified medical examiners and listed on the National Registry.The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is proposing an easier path for V.A. physicians to become certified medical examiners and listed on the National Registry.

A proposed rule set to be published in the Federal Register Thursday, Dec. 1, will outline the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s plan to establish an alternative process for Veterans Affairs doctors to be allowed to issue medical certificates to military veteran truck drivers.

After FMCSA-administered training and testing, the V.A. doctors would be listed on FMCSA’s National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners without having to go through a third-party tester.

The FAST Act highway bill directed the agency to allow V.A. doctors to be listed on the National Registry and laid out certain guidelines the physicians must meet. The FAST Act stated V.A. doctors must be employed in the Department of Veterans Affairs, be familiar with FMCSA’s standards for truck drivers and have never “acted fraudulently” when it comes to administering medical certificates for commercial drivers. The proposed rule adds the physicians must be either a doctor of medicine or a doctor of osteopathy employed by the V.A.

Once the qualified doctors complete the training and pass testing, they would then be allowed to conduct medical exams and issue Medical Examiner’s Certificates only to military veteran drivers enrolled in the V.A. health care system.

The training for the doctors would be delivered through a web-based system operated by the V.A. FMCSA says the training “would be an intensive, online training course” and include an overview of FMCSA medical standards, an overview of how the federal medical exemption programs factor into the qualification decision, an administrative component with an overview of driver exam forms and information regarding the use of the National Registry and the National Registry System. After completing the training, the doctors would be tested on it and must receive a passing grade to become a certified medical examiner on the National Registry.

In addition to providing an easier path to the National Registry for V.A. physicians, FMCSA also proposed a couple of minor changes to the certification requirements for all medical examiners.

First, the agency proposes to add a requirement that a doctor must first register on the National Registry System and receive a unique ID before being allowed to take any of the training or testing to become a certified medical examiner. FMCSA says this has always been the way the system has worked, but it wasn’t included in the language of the regulation.

FMCSA also proposes in the rule to remove the prohibition against taking the test more than once every 30 days. FMCSA says there are no actions that must be taken in the 30-day period, such as additional training, so there is no need for the waiting period.

FMCSA is seeking comment on the proposed rule, which can be done by searching Docket No. FMCSA-2016-0333 at www.regulations.gov. The full text of the 43-page proposed rule can be seen here.