Rep. Ray Ward, R-Bountiful, a family physician, says the state requires a long parade of his patients to bring in forms for him to sign every year verifying they may still drive safely despite such ailments as hypertension or non-insulin-treated diabetes.
He contends that patients with those illnesses pose little risk of fainting or other dangers while driving — so the vast majority of forms are unnecessary, the process is expensive for patients and it wastes his time.
Lawmakers are agreeing, and are near to final approval for changing the rules.
The Senate Transportation voted 5-0 Monday to endorse HB184, and sent it to the full Senate with a clarifying amendment. It previously passed the House 72-0. Sen. Brian Zehnder, R-Cottonwood Heights, another doctor, is the bill’s Senate sponsor.
Ward said his bill would exempt people with hypertension or non-insulin-treated diabetes from the need to fill out forms, adding they pose the least danger of people with many ailments now required to have doctors sign forms annually.
But, “In my clinic, 85 percent of the forms I fill out are for hypertension and diabetes,” he said.
Ward said the state figures about 168,000 people fill out medical forms required by the Driver’s License Division every year for those and other ailments. With an average doctor visit costing $100, he estimates current rules cost Utahns about $16 million unnecessarily every year.
The Driver License Division requires annual doctor forms for many other ailments including problems with the heart, lungs, nervous system, learning or memory disorders, psychological issues or mental illness.
“Even in those conditions, there are at least some patients who are low risk,” Ward said. So he said the bill gives the doctor the option to check a box saying another form may not be needed for five years.
Ward said forms now also do not contain instructions for doctors, so they often fill them out without knowing exactly what criteria they should use for evaluations. The bill would require a link on forms to online sites with explanations.
The Driver License Division endorsed the bill.