Author: Dr. David Thorpe, DC, DACBOH
Spurred by an article seen in OOIDA’s July 24th Online Issue of Landline Magazine, PMP cooperative partner, Dr. Mike Megehee of TeamCME tracked down and has verified the source of an unexpected comment from FMCSA.
The source is from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Whenever a notice, a proposed rule, or a final rule is issued from a Government agency, the Office of Management and Budget receives and approves the action before it is published in the Federal Register and released to the public.
The proposed action from FMCSA is to retract the 2016 Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) for Sleep Apnea. The FMCSA comment to OMB was that “Upon review of all public comments to the ANPRM, FMCSA has determined there is not enough information available to support moving forward with a rulemaking action and so the rulemaking will be withdrawn. This would mean that FMCSA does not intend to establish a rule on Sleep Apnea. We aren’t able to determine when FMCSA sent their retraction document to the OMB, however, on July 12, the FMCSA released a report from the ECRI Institute which is a nonprofit health services research agency. The FMCSA has contracted with ECRI to answer basic questions related to CMV drivers with sleep apnea. The conclusions of that report were that commercial drivers with sleep apnea were at a greater risk of having an accident, however the amount of increased risk could not be determined.
On July 14th, FMCSA stated in an FMCSA webinar that a Proposed Rule for Sleep Apnea would not come forth until after President Trump appoints a new FMCSA Administrator.
More recently, FMCSA stated that something will appear soon in the Federal Register (where all OMB approved actions appear to the public). Of course we will be looking for that.
So what does all this conflicting information mean? Unless a new FMCSA Administrator decides to take on the highly controversial and unpopular sleep apnea issue, we would expect that the issue of sleep apnea will be dumped squarely in the lap of CMEs. Also, with the heightened awareness concerning sleep apnea, CMEs will most likely not ignore sleep apnea testing and monitoring moving forward as is apparent from the recent ATRI report regarding the effect of the NRCME on the trucking industry. CME’s will be left to follow the guidance that was in place prior to the advent of the proposed rule. Unfortunately, for the trucking industry this will mean continued confusion with varying interpretations of this preexisting guidance leading to issues for drivers and motor carriers when testing is appropriate, the use of waiting periods, requirements for re-certification and more.
The overall outcome will most likely include continued testing that is often times not necessary, a greater number of shortened certifications and delays, and of course increased cost for drivers and motor carriers. If you have continued questions feel free to leave them through the blog, or contact us directly at info@PassMyPhysical.com.
We are also planning to provide a Sleep Apnea webinar for Motor Carriers and Truck Drivers on September 13, 2017 concerning the guidance that currently exists and useful tips in managing the problem moving forward. It will be FREE to all Motor Carriers and Drivers. Stay tuned for more information!