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September 16, 2013  |   Comments (5)   |   Post a comment

Bill would require formal rulemaking on sleep apnea

By Thomas McMahon


New federal legislation aims to prevent the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) from issuing guidance on sleep apnea testing for commercial drivers without going through a formal rulemaking process.

A coalition of organizations, including the National School Transportation Association (NSTA), is advocating for the bill, H.R. 3095, which was introduced by Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Md.) and Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.).

The bill would require FMCSA to go through a formal notice and comment rulemaking proceeding when issuing guidance on the screening and testing of commercial motor vehicle drivers for obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders.

“If FMSCA wants to weigh in on this issue, then they should go through the proper rulemaking process,” Bucshon said. “With such tremendous potential costs to the truck and bus industry, it is critical that we include all the stakeholders, including the medical and trucking communities, in any thorough analysis of fatigue-related crashes. This bill will provide an open and transparent process to evaluate both the costs and benefits of any proposed regulations.”

The trucking industry estimates that the impact of screening, diagnosis and treatment for obstructive sleep apnea could exceed $1 billion annually. The impact to the private school bus industry is estimated to be $100 million.

NSTA has called on all of its members to contact their representatives in the House in an effort to secure additional co-sponsors for the legislation.

“The safety record of the school bus industry is unmatched because it is always our top priority," NSTA President Tim Flood said, adding that the association is appreciative of Bucshon and Lipinski's support "in ensuring that FMCSA consider this issue in a comprehensive way, including a cost-benefit analysis, to ensure that any new mandates will actually improve safety."

Several groups were instrumental in developing the legislation: NSTA, the American Trucking Associations, the American Bus Association, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the United Motorcoach Association.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will consider H.R. 3095 in a markup hearing on Thursday.

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Read more about: FMCSA, NSTA

(continued from previous post) -- New CPAP machines for obstructive sleep apnea are inexpensive, but you may have to do some research to get a better, more reliable device. I'm not that familiar with CPAP machines, I use my ASV machine for complex sleep apnea on DC voltage when travelling -- a little larger device but works great. I hope this helps any of you faced with trying to navigate the medical industry's 'mind-field' determined to get every penny they can from your wallet. Plenty of ripoffs out there that can consume the wallets of the naive and otherwise unprepared. Hopefully this post can help put a stop to most of that nonsense happening to you involving sleep apnea issues.

jkraemer    |    Sep 18, 2013 08:32 AM

This issue taunts my interest, and having been there I find it compelling to communicate my experiences with sleep apnea testing, medical supplier scams, politicians and insurance company indifference concerning the costs involved. The cost to test for sleep apnea was over $1,000 and the results was not only that I had the typical 'obstructive' sleep apnea but I also had 'complex' sleep apnea, a dangerous condition that likely contributed to my heart attacks. Consider myself lucky to be alive and still able to annoy. The machine I use to control my versions of sleep apnea cost $5,000 and was paid in full by my medical insurance company. Please BEWARE of supplier rip offs that is happening in the medical supply industry. I did what I thought was adequate research and still was ripped off my first time buying a machine. My first machine for complex sleep apnea, was an old Respironics ASV that the supplier dumped on me and charged the insurance company $10,000. My insurance company, even after whatever they discounted the payout to the supplier still paid for that machine. When I found out I went ballistic, returned the machine, complained to the insurance company, and received a new state of the art VPAP Adapt SV machine for $5,000 paid for by my insurance. Good CPAP machines for the typical obstructive sleep apnea can be purchased on the cheap, but best to know the supplier. Some are crooks and will try to sell you junk machines. When your income will not allow the cost of a CPAP, sleep doctors often know where you can get one free, so ask. The market is flooded with used CPAP machines, plenty are still good machines with few to moderate hours used. Many CPAP machines have a DC adapter available for use when travelling. New CPAP machines for obstructive sleep apnea are inexpensive, but you may have to do some research to get a better, more reliable device. I'm not that familiar with CPAP machines, I use my ASV machine for complex sleep a

jkraemer    |    Sep 18, 2013 08:27 AM

Well, im cleared....I've been tested and cleared. When i went for my yearly physical they asked me these questions, if you answer yes on at least 2 you have to get tested! I told them i don't have sleep problem, i sleep like a rock! I think its ridiculous to test people who drive local, less than8 hrs, like the above poster said. I wont go back to that place again! Oh fwiw, test night was the WORST sleep i had...went home to get real sleep!

Bus driver in socal    |    Sep 17, 2013 05:25 PM

The Body Mass Index (BMI) is outright dumb, in my opinion, invented in 1832 by Belgian statistician Adolphe Quetelet. He invented the Quetelet Index, now called BMI. Many professional opinions present that BMI is an inaccurate method for trying to detect sleep apnea, attractive to this industry because it is a cheap method but can also cause undo alarm. It is not much use to even professional related medical professionals to determine sleep apnea without further study. This issue is too serious to screw it up based on BMI fantasies, ought to remain in the sole control of medical doctors during normal physicals. To give control to office staff, or even a district nurse is on the dumb side, may escalate unnecessary costs, as well as cause unnecessary negative relationships between employers and their employees. Just plain dumb to do that. That said, sleep apnea can be a very dangerous condition, and does need to be professionally diagnosed when something seems amiss. According to my sleep doctor, snoring while sleeping, or falling asleep during normal working hours may be an indicator of sleep apnea. But even these present requires more testing to determine if sleep apnea is the problem, and especially necessary to determine if complex sleep apnea is also present. You just can't stick a mask on your face when sleeping and solve this issue. Too many variables have to be worked out. I can hope that enough undertand the proplem with abusive use of BMI, agree it is a short sighted method to determine sleep apnea, and ban its use from school district transportation departments.

jkraemer    |    Sep 17, 2013 05:06 PM

You shouldn't have to do this expense if you are short time bus driver and do not go across statelines and do not work a full 8 hour day some only work 5 hours a day and to have this expense is too much when they have plenty of time to rest

B cook    |    Sep 17, 2013 04:54 PM

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