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AOPA continues fight for medical reformAOPA continues fight for medical reform

AOPA is continuing to lead the fight for medical reform, urging lawmakers in the House to support legislation passed by the Senate.
The Capitol is home to the U.S. Congress and its House and Senate governing bodies, two of the many government agencies that have influence over general aviation. Photo by David Tulis.

“We’re talking to lawmakers every single day, asking them to keep this legislation moving forward,” said Jim Coon, AOPA senior vice president of government affairs. “With close to 170 House cosponsors, we’ve got strong bipartisan support. Now we want to see medical reform get to the finish line.”

In December 2015, the Senate passed a compromise version of S. 571, the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2, which would mean most pilots would only ever need one third class medical exam. The third class medical reform provisions passed by the Senate go far beyond the AOPA-EAA 2012 petition. A slightly different version of the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 (H.R. 1062) was introduced in the House but has not yet come to the floor for debate and a vote.

“Even though it’s only May, the legislative calendar is filling up fast, and we are working through the cumbersome and sometimes frustrating legislative process,” said Coon. “But we need to keep this legislation moving and get it to the president as quickly as we can.”

If the House passes S. 571 as approved by the Senate, the bill would go directly to the president’s desk to be signed into law. For now, it is being held up because of the House debate over privatizing air traffic control that has stalled all aviation-related legislation.

While AOPA continues to push for the House to pass S. 571, both the House and Senate have included medical reform language in their FAA reauthorization bills. Last month, S. 571 was included in the Senate FAA reauthorization bill that passed by a vote of 95 to 3, marking the second time in five months that medical reform has passed in the Senate.

The third class medical provision from the House version of the Pilot's Bill of Rights 2 is included in the House FAA reauthorization bill, which also is stalled because of the controversy over plans to privatize the air traffic control system. Now that the Senate has passed its FAA reauthorization bill, House leaders have said they are considering their options for moving reauthorization forward, but nothing has been scheduled at this time.

“We are determined to do everything we can to get third class medical reform into law as soon as possible,” said Coon. “This issue is vital to our members and to the entire general aviation community, and we are giving it all we’ve got.”

Elizabeth Tennyson

Elizabeth A Tennyson

Senior Director of Communications
AOPA Senior Director of Communications Elizabeth Tennyson is an instrument-rated private pilot who first joined AOPA in 1998.
Topics: Advocacy, Airman Regulation, Capitol Hill