FAST ACT: Law aims to improve medical exam access for veterans

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line staff writer | 12/10/2015

A section of Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act allows qualified Veterans Administration physicians to conduct commercial motor vehicle medical exams on veterans.

The five-year FAST Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Dec. 4. The bipartisan legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Dec. 3 by a vote of 359-65 and the Senate later that same day by a vote of 83-16. The 1,300-page legislation authorizes federal surface programs through fiscal year 2020, providing $305 billion for roads, bridges and mass transit.

Section 5403 of FAST Act allows qualified VA physicians to perform medical examinations and provide a medical certificate to U.S. military veterans in the trucking industry.

“With so many of our veterans ready and eager to get back to work or transition into the civilian workforce, the last thing the federal government should be doing is making it more difficult for them to do so,” said Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga., who introduced the legislation along with Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn.

“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. Preventing fraud on medical exams is an important goal, and we can do so without adding new federal roadblocks to employment for the men and women in uniform who have served our nation honorably,” Woodall said.

The provision seeks to maintain the doctor-patient relationships that veterans have with their VA physicians and to prevent veterans from having to undergo costly exams from unfamiliar medical providers.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association supports the law.

“We know that many veterans receive a very high level of training in the military, making them perfectly suited to enter the trucking industry,” OOIDA Director of Government Affairs Laura O’Neill-Kaumo told Land Line when the legislation was first proposed in October.

“We need to do all we can to encourage veterans to enter and stay in the profession, not discourage them. The process of finding approved medical professionals across the board is becoming increasingly difficult, so changing the process to help veterans –those already in the trucking industry and those wanting to start a new career driving a truck – makes complete sense.”

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