I have the pleasure of starting the renewal process for issue #7 this January. At five months prior to my license’s expiration date, I begin the renewal gauntlet using the new USCG National Maritime Center. In gathering the necessary information and lining up my documents I had a few questions regarding the new Medical Review Officer’s needs and how much time it might add to the ordeal. The way I read the new NVIC regarding the number of conditions considered and the new review criteria gave me grave concerns that the process was headed south in the worst way. Every renewal request is required to be taken under review by a medical review officer, and then sent along its way in the process. My concern was delays may end up being even more ridiculous, I mean, have you read the thing?
I was initially reluctant to get into it with some drone in the center but it turns out I was pleasantly greeted and all my questions accommodated with clear and straightforward answers. Fancy that! Here’s what I found out: in a nutshell, nothing has changed, except for a few key bits of advice. When you submit your documents for renewal the form CG-719k needs to be supplied and current. I was informed that if you are healthy and taking no prescription medications, you should fly through the medical review on the first round provided all the T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted. Make sure the form is properly filled out and signed. If you’re on ANY prescription medications you’ll need to be honest about them and list all of them. The little bit of advice I received regarded background data: you should provide an addendum to the form from your prescribing physician (preferably on his stationary). The addendum should state the condition being treated, that it’s under control, and include your physician’s contact information. As long as the condition is not one of the Big 5 you should breeze through more quickly than if a request for clarifying info is necessary. (I’ve included this link to the newest flier published by the USCG in regard to the new review system.)
The Top 5 reasons for denial include: 1. Implantable cardiac defibrillators; cardiomyopathy. 2. Medications: chronic use of narcotics/amphetamines/benzodiazepines. 3. Uncontrolled diabetes. 4. Mental health: psychotic disorders or uncontrolled bipolar disorder. 5. Uncontrolled sleep disorders.
But the main thing here is that since the new system is all we’ve got, you’ve got no options but to try and make it as easy on the M.R.O. as possible. From all I could discern during my conversation with the center I can say that you’ll be flagged for further review without the addendum if you take a prescription medication. The likelihood you’ll be denied is remote unless you fall under the category of one of the 5 big ones. As in 1 tenth of one percent.
So go forth and renew, but be aware that the new regimen is centralized and likely to add a bit of time to the process. By adding another set of eyes to the many that must review your renewal package its logical to expect things to take a little more time.