FMCSA: Expect sleep apnea guidance proposal in near term








I’m going to step outside the lines with this post and talk about sleep apnea.  Vigillo, of course, is all about CSA – helping fleets manage their data and helping the industry understand the impact of the program.  Of late, there has been a ominous sound emanating from the woods and that sound is FMCSA “official guidance” for sleep apnea screening.  

Much like CSA’s goal of reducing crashes, the goal of ensuring drivers get treated for sleep apnea is indeed a noble one.  Much like CSA over the last two years, the devil will be in the details when in comes to implementing sleep apnea “guidance”.

Without getting into details, suffice it to say that Vigillo knows a little something about this whole sleep apnea thing.  Trust me when I say this: If this “guidance” comes to pass some drivers may well sleep better but carriers are going to have nightmares.

The primary problem lies in driver compliance with CPAP usage.  If a driver is screened and its determined he or she suffers from sleep apnea the service provider who did the testing and prescribed the CPAP device is going to bill the carriers insurance company for reimbursement.  Easy enough.  However, the insurance company is going to require the service provider to document a minimum usage amount by the driver in order to qualify for reimbursement. 

So, the first challenge is getting an over the road driver to use the CPAP at least XX% of the time.  Let’s assume the driver does use the device as prescribed.  The second challenge is how does the driver prove it?  There’s something akin to a sim card in the CPAP device that will need to be delivered back to the service provider on a regular basis by way of the driver.  Good luck with that.    

To make things even more interesting, there are no standards currently established within the service provider community, nor the insurance community, in regards to what constitutes compliance when it comes to CPAP usage.   

The FMCSA can issue their “guidance” if they so choose.  They just need to understand that the private sector stakeholders in this are nowhere near being able to provide a cohesive, consistent and practical implementation that motor carriers could benefit from.  Until that happens, motor carriers could be facing a “guidance” nightmare.