Annual AME User Fees—Out For Now

Editorial, by Jon L. Jordan, MD, JD

For the time being, the proposal to assess annual fees for designation of physicians as aviation medical examiners (AMEs) has been dropped. The proposal originated in the House Public Works and Transportation committee as one of several user fees recommended to reduce the deficit.

The conference committee action on the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, HR 2264, is welcomed by most AMEs. The correspondence we received, directly and through congressional referral, is unanimous in opposition to the proposed fees. AMEs, nearly universally, expressed their desire to continue performing AME duties and emphasized the number of airmen examined each year, on the average, would result in a net loss of income on what is now essentially a break-even basis.

Our goal in the FAA Office of Aerospace Medicine is to facilitate the medical certification of airmen by ensuring that they receive a timely and accurate examination, with minimum difficulty of access to AMEs. Our system largely achieves these objectives and does so at minimal cost to the airman and to the taxpayer.

We believe, and our correspondence supports the notion that most physicians serve as AMEs out of their interest in aviation and as a matter of public service and convenience to airmen. The efforts of our AMEs, many of whom are aviators, are important to aviation safety. Hopefully, special fees will not be necessary in the future.