WASHINGTON, DC – Bucking the trend toward legislative gridlock, new legislation to limit sleep apnea “guidance” recently passed the House and Senate, and is now headed to the President’s desk. The bill was approved in the House by a vote of 405-0 in late September, and the Senate (also unanimously) passed it in October.
“The best part,” writes Charlie Morasch, of LandLineMag.com, a trucking industry publication, is that “Truckers are being hailed for their efforts to support the proposed law.”
Introduced in mid-September by Reps Larry Bucshon (R-Ind) and Dan Lipinski (D-Ill), HR3095 required the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to go through its regulatory process and institute formal “rulemaking” instead of simply issuing “guidance” to physicians, drivers, and motor carriers.
As reported by LandLineMag, the proposed Senate bill was co-sponsored by Sens Roy Blunt (R-Mo), and Mark Warner (D-Va). It aimed to “ensure that any new or revised requirement providing for the screening, testing or treatment of individuals operating commercial vehicles for sleep disorders is adopted through a rulemaking proceeding.”
“Both pieces of legislation were seen as a response to rumblings that FMCSA was preparing guidance that would urge physicians to require truckers with a Body Mass Index of 35 or greater to undergo overnight sleep exams,” writes Morasch. “Guidance – although it would carry the weight of FMCSA’s name – wouldn’t have required a public comment period or other measures common to the regulatory approval process.”
Patrick A. Maley, chief operating officer, Apnea Sciences, reports that DME providers at Medtrade were looking at the Apnea Rx oral appliance as incremental business. “This is an alternative for their non compliant CPAP patients,” said Maley. “It’s a way for DMEs to bond with sleep docs.”
Officials at Somnetics International, makers of the light and small Transcend CPAP, believe they are uniquely qualified to capitalize on the burgeoning trucker demographic. At Medtrade last week, Clarence Johnson, founder of Somnetics, introduced the Transcend Heated Humidifier and a pressure relief CPAP called the EZEZ. The products continue the travel-friendly theme of the original Transcend, with some additional technological additions.
“We also have TranSync, which is wireless compliance monitoring where the data is actually transmitted via a smart phone app,” explains Johnson. “So you turn on the smart phone app and turn on the CPAP. It automatically interrogates the CPAP and takes the data to the cloud so the DME and the clinician can review the patient’s compliance data. Patients can review their compliance summary on their phone.”