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The Diabetes Exemption Program, as established on September 3, 2003 (68 Fed. Reg. 52441) and amended on November 8, 2005 (70 Fed. Reg. 67777), is time consuming and cumbersome.3 While this should improve with the very recent addition of an application form for individuals to complete, the process is weighed down by a number of administrative issues, a lack of personnel at FMCSA to administer the exemption program, the burdensome nature of repeated requests for the same medical information and/or verification of various

medical records, and requests for additional tests to is unable to complete processing of applications individuals waiting as long as eighteen months for

be taken and submitted when FMCSA

in

a

timely

manner.4

The

result

is

a

single

exemption

application

to

be

processed. Such a system is useless to a driver who becomes cannot drive. The current system is also unduly expensive as appointments and testing. These delays and expenses could

unemployed when he or she it requires repeated medical be effectively eliminated by

having determinations on diabetes using standards could then be handled all

insulin-treated diabetes made by physicians knowledgeable about established by FMCSA. The verification of examinations and tests in one office and at one time.

Federal transportation law and the FMCSRs currently provide that FMCSA must grant or deny an exemption request within 180 days after an exemption is requested.5 In reality, however, the process takes much longer because FMCSA does not consider the period to begin until it receives a “complete” application, thus each time FMCSA requests additional

information, it pushes the beginning of this 180-day period back FMCSA’s application states – contrary to the legislative requirements –

further.6 Moreover, that it allows for 180

days

after

it

makes

a

preliminary

decision

to

grant

an

exception.7

The

time

it

takes

the

3 Until very recently, there was no actual application form for individuals to complete, just a collection of letters from FMCSA, the physical qualifications standards in Part 391, the procedures for applying for an exemption generally in Part 381, and the September 3, 2003 Federal Register notice that applicants were forced to sort through in order to apply for a diabetes exemption. This created uncertainty about what information was needed to determine a person’s eligibility and caused many applicants to field numerous requests from FMCA to supply additional information to complete their applications.

4 Even after FMCSA developed a more streamlined application and instructions, applicants continue to field requests to provide more information or to clarify information already provided. In some instances, the information sought had already been submitted by the applicant or his/her physician in the original application. In other instances, the information sought was not necessary to determine the individual’s suitability to hold an exemption (e.g., information about the applicant’s employer).

See 49 U.S.C. § 31315(b)(5) (stating that applicants for exemptions are to be dealt with promptly, and emphasizing that “The Secretary shall grant or deny an exemption request after a thorough review of its safety implications, but in no case later than 180 days after the filing date of such request.”). 5

6 See Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; Diabetes, 68 Fed. Reg. 52441, 52443 (Sept. 3, 2003) (stating “FMCSA will issue a final decision within 180 days of the date it receives an individual’s completed application. However, if the applicant should omit important details or other information necessary for the agency to conduct a comprehensive evaluation, FMCSA will issue a final decision within 180 days of the date that it receives sufficient information.”). FMCSA “recognizes that this potential six-month waiting period may seem burdensome” Id. at 52443.

The application states: “It may take up to 180 days from the date a preliminary decision is made to grant an exemption until the exemption is granted. This time is required for evaluation of the completed application and to complete the Federal Register notice process” and that applicants should “note that additional medical information may be required depending on any medical conditions outlined in the application. Once the 7

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