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AOPA Medical Reform - Letters

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AOPA Medical Reform - Letters

Unread postby jjbaker » Mon Jun 29, 2015 8:19 am

Works for non AOPA members. Add to or edit the letter according to your desire.

Write Your Legislators

Whether you send this letter or write your own please act TODAY. We must let elected officials know that third-class medical reform matters, and we’ve waited long enough! If one or more of your legislators are not listed as an option to contact that is because they have already co-sponsored these important bills. To see the full list of co-sponsors click here. You can send the letter below or adapt the message to include more information about why this legislation matters to you personally.

The Twitter function is an optional feature of the site, if you do not wish to use please leave blank and click Go! at the bottom of the screen to send your letters to the selected legislators. Some legislators require a topic to be chosen before the letter is sent out, some examples this issue could fall under is Aviation, Transportation, Healthcare, Medical or Other. If you need any assistance please e-mail advocacyinfo@aopa.org


Here's the form letter, fully editable:

Dear Congressman/Senator,

I am a general aviation pilot who lives in your district/state. I am writing today to urge you to cosponsor the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 (H.R. 1062/S. 571).

The bill includes a provision on third class medical reform that is vitally important to me and thousands of pilots nationwide. It simply seeks to expand an existing and successful FAA standard that has been in place for one segment of general aviation (GA) pilots for more than a decade. The data gathered over this 10 year period shows that the third-class medical certificate has become antiquated and does nothing to improve safety. But it still costs pilots millions of dollars every year!

Third class medical reform will save pilots like me money and time while also providing savings to the federal government; it will improve general aviation safety; and it will help reverse the precipitous decline in the pilot population. When we have more pilots flying, American companies build and sell more airplanes, aviation-related businesses add jobs, and the economy grows.

The bill will also provide GA pilots with additional protections to remedy unfair practices and regulations by expanding the first Pilot’s Bill of Rights. The first Pilot’s Bill of Rights received overwhelming support in both the House and Senate and became law in 2012.

The Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 is supported by thousands of individual pilots like me, and by the entire general aviation community including the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the Experimental Aircraft Association, the Flying Physicians Association and others.

PLEASE ADD YOUR NAME TO THE BILL TODAY!!!


Click Here To Send A Letter!
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Re: AOPA Medical Reform - Letters

Unread postby RKittine » Tue Jun 30, 2015 7:02 am

Especially since this truly effects me, I have been all over this since the first proposal through the Senate and House Bills. Wish they would come up with something, but although the FAA claims they will have a ruling soon, we have not been hearing that for some time. The Senate / House needs to put the pressure back on. My friend who is a FSFO Manager said that he believes the FAA will rule in favor of the 180 HP rule for LSA if the Senate and House again press for the 6,000 pound exemption. And make it a temporary ruling so they can sneak if out later on.

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Re: AOPA Medical Reform - Letters

Unread postby jjbaker » Tue Jun 30, 2015 11:24 am

:beer: I apologize for the long text in advance. Maybe I am wrong or not seeing something right, but here is how it appears...

The problem I personally see with "medical reform" isn't the FAA alone. We're looking at a plethora of possible outcomes of such a "regulation relax" and congressional delegates may not be the people we wish to depend on. Politicians work because they sense votes, not because they understand the problem, even remotely. Proof of that is apparent everywhere in society. Politicians will paint clouds pink for the chance of another dirty vote and we know it. But, the law of popularity rules - so by all means- I think we should use them for what they are: "Useful Crooks & Idiots". If for nothing else, then to get rules and regulations passed that make sense and hold water. But, politicians can't be the only (lame) horse we have on the farm?!

First: I think pilots and general aviation pilots are very very hard to mobilize into taking collaborative action. It doesn't even work between most of the associations. The resulting net sum is that maybe two-, best case five-thousand directly affected pilots will petition the FAA and policymakers, however the large part of the GA pilot population is not affected by medical problems quite yet. People who do not derive direct benefit (financial or otherwise) could just shrug and move on, like they do on most grass roots advocacy efforts. If you have never feared for your medical, you are less likely to pipe up for those who have been denied or let their medical lapse.

Second: I see tremendous imbalances in the plan to leave Class II and I medicals unaffected by the reduction in regulatory burden.
Medical exams are "moment snapshots" of a pilots general health, the very same holds true for Class II and I medical holders. I have seen two fresh Class I medical holders drop dead within days of passing their medical exams. Completely undiscovered, unsuspected, non indicative, but very deadly cardiovascular events... POP and the show was over! If we are to look at medical reform, we need to do more than just use a milkmaids thesis, thinking that no medical requirement will somehow lead to a boost in pilot numbers. The sport pilot certificate did not do ANYTHING to help. Glider pilots in the U.S. need no medical at all - yet - the sport is dying a slow and painful death.

Third: Anyone who has ever been denied a medical will be hard-pressed to argue that they are suddenly fit to fly again, just because the medical requirement no longer exists. Again, if such was the case, gliders and sport airplanes would have experienced explosive growth. We'd be writing SPC's left and right, yet I think less than 10.000 have been written.

Last: I think the insurance companies will sense a market and capitalize on the weakness of the system. A possible valid argument: A person previously denied will not receive insurance coverage. Boom. Now what? The insurance companies could further develop plans to require an independent medical exam for just insurance purposes and they could already be working with today's opponents of the medical reform, to stick it to the man after-all. The Medical Examiners are not all too happy about the idea either... I have yet to meet a business person, voluntarily giving up revenue just to help a minority of customers save money.

Besides the risk of having a "knee-jerk regulatory relax" in place which will later be repealed or destroyed or subjected to tremendous liability lawsuits, I think the Monster is appearing dressed like a sheep. In the end, medical reform that is meaningful and beneficial to GA will continue to cover hot topic risk items currently affecting safety in the NAS and for people on the ground. Increasing mental illness cases or seeing accidents caused by people with mental issues/ history as well as a new generation of ADD/ ADHD kids on terrible medication will bring a new level of problem we haven't seen before.

EASA/ FCL has taught me, during the last several months, that despite a number of countries with national laws and regulations contributing to the mix, we have the easier, more logical, better thought out medical certificate playground. We issue "Safety Pilot Only" medicals, requiring a medically deficient pilot to be accompanied by another pilot. I am not yet through the system, but I can already tell that regaining my medical here will be cheaper and easier than a single ordered specialist exam in the states would have been. Now, we don't have the slimmest people here in Germany, but your NECK SIZE won't be considered in determining your fitness to fly. Problem is that those who come up with those ideas, sneak them on the books. See: Sleep Apnea. Nobody knew about this until it hit the aviation press - true story.

This increasing sneaking in itself can only be part of a long planned war declared on General Aviation. Its time we react to this, aggressively and as a group. Its time to stop separating bush pilots from paved surface pilots, separate those from seaplane loving people, keep 91 commercial pilots from 135 charter pilots and meanwhile have a million people thinking - but nobody acting. What or who are we, as a group? What good is a 1000 soldiers, sitting duck with no target? Where are these shining leadership figures who have the ability to actually mobilize?

I think we need to sit together and hammer our way out of this mess.
We've caused it by being silent, fat and happy for decades - we probably will need to fix it.

The FAA is a tool - not God. The FAA's mission and mandate is crystal clear. Whatever is done or reformed will be the result of PRESSURE.
Its time for us to start fighting for "NextGenGA" - because my friends, we've been burning the candle from both ends, for way to long.

I've gone once around the block and arrive at this broken record conclusion, again:

Tomorrows effective advocacy work requires: .......... INVOLVED PILOTS and COLLABORATIVE EFFORTS AMONGST ASSOCIATIONS.

Who, if not us? When, if not now? How, if not this way?

Don't get me wrong, I'd love nothing more than a sensible, logical way to get medicals to go poof. I consider them senseless bureaucratic dinosaur style left-overs from a time when rubber boots where still made out of wood. Some of my closest friends are grounded or unwilling to enter into a bargaining fight with a system that is geared against them. How many pilots do you know who are denied a medical, but you'd fly with them in a heartbeat?

If we've truly learned that its time to act, then lets work together and act. Now.

With the current level of turf wars, stonewalling and institutionalized fragmentation within General Aviation, I just can't see how...
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Re: AOPA Medical Reform - Letters

Unread postby TriPacer » Tue Jun 30, 2015 4:07 pm

Sent my letter...

FWIW - I still thoroughly believe that it's a joke that people can self-certify to drive but not fly small planes. That really sums it up for me - that and the fact that there is no existing data to support that medical examination have increased pilot safety in any measure.
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Re: AOPA Medical Reform - Letters

Unread postby RKittine » Tue Jun 30, 2015 6:37 pm

Remember that the caveat is that "if you know that you would not pass an FAA medical then you are required to ground yourself".

I have 4 conditions that are not grounds to be denied a medical, even 2nd class. The fear is what the FAA would do with all 4 being present at once.

My insurance company insures me without any problem with my stated LSA, no medical disclosure. I think they might let the 180 HP rule stand, but I do agree that with what the congress proposed at 5 passengers and 6,000 pounds MGW that the insurance companies are probably not going to insure. Of course there are already those that we know that fly without any insurance at all.

Right now I am flying with two different private pilots, one of which I would not fly with if I could not handle the airplane and one that was a student of mine. I can log the "instruction given" but not as pilot in comand. Interesting how it shows in my log book.

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Re: AOPA Medical Reform - Letters

Unread postby KeithSmith » Tue Jun 30, 2015 9:11 pm

A great deal has been written about this subject from people far more knowledgeable than me. So, there is little I could add, but I'll chip in with a few random disjointed comments.

First, whenever I heard the word "reform" in a bill or tossed around in a political debate I'm immediately on guard for something bad.

As Herr Baker wrote, you can't get all of aviation to pull in the same direction. Someone who has settled in a life flying Part 121 has a much different view of what is best than any other kind of aviator.

When push comes to shove, the Part 121 world is the side that will get the attention and the votes from the politicians. There are a lot more votes from airline passengers than there are from aviators. If general aviation had any serious political power Meigs would be in operation today.

The process of proving you're healthy enough to meet a standard can be expensive and dangerous. Insurance companies won't pay for some procedures the FAA requires for a special issuance medical and will go on record as saying the procedure has more risk than value.

The LTA and Glider community has self certified for years and their record of medically related accidents per population size is about one-tenth as much as the areas that require a medical.

I've known professional pilots who have hidden medical problems rather than get them treated and risk losing their job. It makes one wonder if the medical screening process is making things safer or less safe.
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Re: AOPA Medical Reform - Letters

Unread postby RKittine » Wed Jul 01, 2015 8:07 am

You're spot on Keith.

The FAA wants me to have a Full Body MRI for one of the follow up tests for my Cancer. My insurance is happy to pay for my annual PET / CT Scans with and without contrast and that is what my oncologist wants. He wrote a letter for me to this effect, which I sent to the AOPA Medical Assistance Doctor who I have been working with and they checked with the FAA without using my name and the answer is that is what they want or no consideration for a waiver. I had the test, which cost me $5,000 out of pocket as to get the full body it was run a number of times. Ever been in one of those machines BANGING away for 2 hours?

I have a home INR monitor for checking my blood clot time as I need to have an INR of 2.0 - 3.0 10 out of 12 monthly testings. Fortunately Medicare and my Supplemental Insurance together pays 100 percent for this. I am on Coumadin, which no longer is a disqualifying drug. Funny as in the early 70s, I was grounded for being on it. Had to be off 6 months to get my 1st Class Back in those days. So at least this one is a little easier. Once a quarter I have to have a scan of my leg to see what the status is of my deep vain thrombosis, which has been gone now for two years.

I also have a home Blood Pressure monitor. I have to show that in thirty continuous days of testing that my blood pressure does not exceed 155/85 more than 5 times. It is a joke as depending on what time of the day that I take the reading I can make that 100% of the time. I am never over 125 on top, but some times 86-90 on the bottom. If I take it at night I am usually 118 / 70.

We had a medical examiner out east here that would pass you for your first class if you could show that you were breathing. All of us flying 121 went to him. That was before the FAA required that the EKGs get sent to Flight Surgeon General for reading rather than letting the local examiner read them.

My first experience with that was also the first experience for the doctor that I then used (A GYOBN) who had just gotten the box, modem and phone interconnect. That exam led to me being rushed to the hospital and turned out to be a incorrectly set up and functioning EKG monitor. Scared my daughter half to death. In 2006 a similar quirk caused me to have added tests by a cardiologist, which came back inconclusive, but the cardiologist wrote to the FAA that there was only a 5% or less chance that there was any issue after doing another EKG, a Stress EKG and a Nuclear EKG. The FAA said you want to fly, we want a Cardiac Cath. I had that, a dangerous procedure and it was TOTALLY clear and I got my First Class Back. After that I only too 2nd Class exams as I no longer needed the 1st Class and therefore did not need the EKG.

At the end of 2008 I was diagnosed with cancer and though I have now been cancer free for over 6 years, when my last 2nd class became a 3rd class and then expired, I have not tried to actually take the FAA medical, but have carried letters from all my doctors stating that I have no medical conditions that would preclude me from flying commercially or casually.

Some type of change is needed, whether it is called reform, elimination of the current medical, requirement for some other coverable exam etc. or a change to what you can fly with self certification. Mission wise I would expect less accidents from the categories that are currently self certification of medical. Hard to lose an engine in an unpowered glider! :elephant:

Bob

P.S. Regarding Meiggs Field, I lived in Down Town Chicago when that all happened. The pilot community in fact kept the airport open legally. The mayor snuck in during the night and in direct violation of a court injunction, shut down the airport and ripped up the runway. Since the city would not pay for a new runway it was hard to get Meiggs back open as an operating anything. Same thing happened at the Lincoln Park Gun Club in the city on Lake Michigan. I used both of these facilities.

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Re: AOPA Medical Reform - Letters

Unread postby KeithSmith » Wed Jul 01, 2015 11:09 pm

Those are a lot of excellent example of real life problems in the system and let me add that I'm sorry as heck you had any of those experiences.

Oh yes, I understood that what Daley did was illegal. But as I remember, the punishment was that the City of Chicago had to pay a $9,000 fine. Well, the federal government really showed him didn't they. I'm sure Daley had a good laugh over that one.

Imagine someone knocking down a couple bridges on the Interstate. It's the same crime in principle, but they wouldn't get a $9,000 fine. Heck, anyone who did that would hear cell doors slamming until his ears rang. Like everything in politics, it all revolves around the number of votes and the size of the campaign contributions. It doesn't have anything to do with what is right or wrong, fair or unfair, or what is best for America.
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Re: AOPA Medical Reform - Letters

Unread postby TriPacer » Mon Jul 06, 2015 10:48 am

I remember reading about Meiggs after I flew past it one day, inadvertantly taking a picture (just shooting the Chicago skyline) and one of the partners in the Force mentioned something about it. I then went and did some research and wow - I can't say I've ever seen such a display of dirty politics... Pretty eye-opening.
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