Support continues to grow for legislative action on third class medical reform, with nine new co-sponsors added to the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act as Congress gets back to work following midterm elections.
The latest additions bring the number of co-sponsors in the House to 159, while the Senate legislation has 20 co-sponsors.
“It’s important to keep up the momentum in support of third class medical reform, and we are pleased that so many members of Congress have come out in favor of this long-overdue change,” said Jim Coon, AOPA senior vice president of government affairs. “We continue to meet with legislators and their staff members to encourage support of this important bill.”
The newest co-sponsors include Reps. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.), John Delaney (D-Md.), Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), Michael Turner (R-Ohio), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), Steve Womack (R-Ark.), and Kristi Noem (R-S.D.).
Strong legislative support for third class medical reform helped prompt the FAA to begin its own rulemaking process on the issue. The draft rule is now under review by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Office of Management and Budget before it can be opened for public comment.
“AOPA strongly supports this legislation and would like to see it either passed as a standalone bill or included in the next FAA Reauthorization bill in 2015,” said Coon. “We know how important this issue is to our members, and how frustrated many of them are by the slow pace of government action. We want those members to know that we will keep working on this issue every single day, partnering with general aviation supporters in Congress.”
Prospects for medical reform legislation remain strong following midterm elections that returned the majority of aviation supporters to the House and added some new ones to the Senate, including Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.). Both Cotton and Daines are co-sponsors of the current legislation in the House and will be taking seats in the Senate when the new Congress is sworn in next year.
In the meantime, AOPA has led a campaign to urge DOT to expedite its review of the FAA’s draft rule. Letters asking for a swift review have been sent by Senate and House GA supporters and co-sponsors of the bill; a coalition of seven general aviation industry groups led by AOPA; the AOPA Medical Advisory Board; the Flying Physicians Association; and the Type Club Coalition.
AOPA members have also been encouraging regulators and Congress to act. Tens of thousands of AOPA members have contacted their legislators and asked them to become co-sponsors of the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act while thousands of attendees at AOPA Fly-Ins and other aviation events have signed a traveling petition to urge medical reform.
In addition to saving countless hours and endless frustration, third class medical reform is expected to save pilots about $24.6 million every year while the FAA would save an estimated $1.9 million annually.