July 15, 2005

CRAPO IMPROVES TRAVEL FOR PULMONARY PATIENTS

Senator wins FAA rule change for oxygen use in airline travel

Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, Co-Chair of a Senate Caucus dealing with chronic breathing issues, today won federal rule changes making it easier for pulmonary patients to travel on airplanes. Crapo had worked with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) over the past year to improve language regarding the use of portable oxygen concentrators (POCs) which assist passengers with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), the fourth-leading killer in the U.S., and other breathing difficulties. "It is overly burdensome for most patients with chronic breathing problems to travel under the current rules," Crapo said. "At present COPD sufferers must plan far in advance down to the tiniest details to travel the skies. This rule change certainly is a breath of fresh air that will bring great freedom to the millions of patients dealing with COPD as well as chronic asthma and Alpha-1 deficiency who require supplemental oxygen."Crapo formed the Senate COPD Caucus in 2003 to give those with breathing difficulties a larger voice in national health care issues before the Congress. Today's FAA rule change reflects a major victory for the work of the Caucus.The new regulation allows air passengers requiring supplemental oxygen the choice between two POCs-the AirStep Lifestyle and Inogen One. Both of these POCs have been approved as medical-portable electronic devices safe for air travel. Travelers with POCs simply must have a physician statement certifying the need for such a device as well as carry appropriate batteries for the length of travel."I commend the FAA for putting out this final rule. It allows millions of Americans suffering from COPD and other diseases to take to the skies unburdened with the current onerous regulations and cost. I strongly urge the major airlines to immediately respect this large population of potential air travelers and permit these POCs on board," Crapo said.This rule, which goes into effect August 11th, 2005, is expected to be quickly followed by a Department of Transportation rule issuing further regulations and guidance. # # #