Bill seeks to improve veterans' access to DOT physicals

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Since the introduction of the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners, there has been a sharp decline in Veterans Administration physicians providing Department of Transportation medical exams – leaving veterans with only costly and possibly not as qualified options for getting the exams.

A bipartisan bill, HR3739, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Oct. 9 seeks to change that.

According to a pair of lawmakers, the creation of the registry, while well-intentioned, has led to adverse consequences for veterans who are looking to begin or maintain a career in the trucking industry. That’s largely because only a fraction of otherwise qualified physicians have completed the costly, time-consuming certification process that is now required in order to perform DOT medical exams, according to the lawmakers behind the bill. 

Introduced on Friday by Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga., and Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., The Veteran’s Expanded Trucking Opportunities Act or VETOPPS Act, seeks to permit qualified VA physicians to conduct DOT medical exams on veterans.

Through the introduction of the VETOPPS Act, the lawmakers seek to restore the doctor-patient relationships that veterans have with their VA physicians. The pair of lawmakers say this will prevent veterans from being forced to use possibly costly and unfamiliar medical providers who may be less qualified to make judgments regarding the CDL holder’s health than his or her personal doctor.

“Forcing a veteran off the rolls of the VA doctor who knows them best simply because the doctor has not completed a separate, costly federal approval process does not make sense, nor does it promote public safety,” Woodall said in a press release announcing the bill.

The creation of the registry has resulted in a trend that the lawmakers want to curtail with the bill – the practice of defensive medicine or using the registry requirements to justify turning the exams and any related testing into profit opportunities.

Allowing qualified VA physicians to conduct the DOT physicals will reduce costs and improve access to the physicians able to give the exams.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association supports the VETOPPS Act and sees it as another step in the right direction in making it easier for veterans to go to work in the trucking industry.

“We know that many veterans receive a very high level of training in the military, making them perfectly suited to enter the trucking industry. We need to do all we can to encourage veterans to enter and stay in the profession, not discourage them,” said OOIDA Director of Government Affairs Laura O’Neill-Kaumo. “The process of finding approved medical professionals across the board is becoming increasingly difficult, so changing the process to help veterans – both those already in the trucking industry and those wanting to start a new career driving a truck – makes complete sense.”

For more information, visit www.FightingForTruckers.com.

Copyright © OOIDA

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