OOIDA: Limits on VA doctor program go too far

By Mark Schremmer, staff writer

In late 2016, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration proposed a program to make it easier for Department of Veterans Affairs physicians to provide DOT physicals for military veterans.

While the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has pressed for the program and is pleased to see progress, the Association expressed some concern over the proposal’s definition of a qualified VA physician.

In the notice of proposed rulemaking, the FMCSA defines such as only a “doctor of medicine” or “doctor of osteopathy” even though the requirements for a certified medical examiner also include advanced practice nurses, doctors of chiropractic, physician assistants, or other medical professionals authorized to perform physical examinations.

The proposal stems from the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which requires the FMCSA to develop a process to allow qualified VA physicians to perform DOT medical exams on veterans who drive truck.

As part of the proposal, the FMCSA will provide training and testing to VA physicians to ensure they are well versed on DOT physicals.

Currently, only 10 VA physicians are included on the national registry of almost 50,000 certified medical examiners.

“OOIDA is supportive of making it seamless for veterans to use the VA system to help secure and/or preserve their livelihood,” the Association comments state.

However, OOIDA contends that limiting VA physicians to doctors of medicine and doctors of osteopathy goes against the intentions of the FAST Act.

“OOIDA believes that this limitation could actually run contrary to the purpose of the provision and would encourage the Agency to change the definition to promote ease and accessibility,” the Association wrote.

“In order for this provision to be successful, the agency should not only allow for medical professionals to easily access the training and testing materials, but should also make it attractive for medical professionals to seek the proper certification to be listed on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners and quickly begin servicing patients. &helip The level of caution exercised by the agency is likely not warranted and may have a chilling effect on encouraging medical professionals in the VA system.” LL