Last week, President Trump admitted he’s intentionally slowing down United States Post Office (USPS) operations to prevent his opponents from voting by mail. Reports are now surfacing that people who rely on USPS for prescription delivery have waited weeks for life saving medications. Unlike its competitors, USPS is legally required to deliver all mail at a flat rate to every postal address nationwide, which is essential for seniors, people with disabilities, veterans and rural communities. Coverage makes clear undermining USPS not only threatens the upcoming presidential election, but also harms every person depending on the USPS for medications and other essential goods — particularly during the pandemic. Trump is putting their lives in danger all because he thinks the pandemic can give him an edge in the upcoming election.
By the Numbers
- USPS handles 1.2 billion prescription drug shipments per year.
- The Department of Veteran’s Affairs fills roughly 80 percent of veteran prescriptions by mail, amounting to 120 million prescriptions a year. The VA delivers prescriptions to 330,000 veterans across the country daily.
- A survey by the National Community Pharmacists Association found that 20 percent of adults over the age of 40 who take medication for a chronic condition receive their prescription through the mail.
- More than half of people who get their medication delivered are over the age of 65.
- Rural Americans face higher risks as a result of USPS delays. 14.5 million people lack access to broadband internet, and rural Americans are more likely to live in poverty.
Forbes: Why Getting Prescriptions By Mail Is Stressing Out Employees And Stretching The USPS To Its Limits
Associated Press: Lawmakers: Postal Changes Delay Mail-Order Medicine for Vets
Columbus Dispatch: Mail Carriers Are a Lifeline for Rural Ohioans: ‘It’s Life or Death. That’s It’
Connecting Vets: As Veterans and VA Staff Report USPS Prescription Delays, Officials Say Order Early
Wall Street Journal: Postal Package Deliveries ‘Bogged Down’ With Delays, Backlogs
CBS Austin: 82-Year-Old Houston-Area Man Left Without Heart Medicine for a Week Due to USPS Delays
NBC Omaha: Omaha Woman Warns of Health Risks Related to Possible USPS Slowdown
Extended Coverage of What USPS Delays Mean for Seniors, Veterans and Rural Americans:
Forbes: “Reports Show Vets And Others With Chronic Conditions Who Do Not Wish To Risk Going To The Pharmacy Due To Covid-19 May Be Waiting Weeks For Medications They Needed Yesterday.” . “Cuts to the United States Postal Service are compromising millions of workers’ ability to get their medications delivered on time. Meanwhile, the mail order drug delivery is growing. Mail order prescription services saw an uptick of 21% over the previous year. CVS Health, AllianceRX Walgreens Prime and Express Scripts, as well as local pharmacies increased their mail-order services mostly due to Covid-19 concerns…reports show vets and others with chronic conditions who do not wish to risk going to a pharmacy due to Covid-19 may be waiting weeks for medications they needed yesterday.” [Forbes, 8/16/20]
Veterans Are Reporting Severe Delays In Receiving Essential Medications: “We Depend on These Medications.” “The vast majority of Department of Veterans Affairs prescriptions are fulfilled by mail. But as U.S. Postal Service delays mount, more and more veterans are reporting long wait times to receive critical medication and VA staff says the problem is only growing…in recent weeks, dozens of veterans said they faced wait times that have doubled, tripled or worse. Some reported wait times as long as three weeks or more for prescriptions that previously took a few days. None of them have been contacted by VA with an explanation, they said. ‘What used to take days now takes weeks,’ one said. ‘We depend on these medications,’ another veteran said. ‘This could be devastating. I can’t go without.’ ‘I received my life-saving medication 20 days late,’ another said.” [Connecting Vets, 8/5/20]
Senator Jon Tester Told NPR “The Postal Service Is Important In All Parts of This Country, But In Rural America It’s Critically Important.” “Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat from Montana, told All Things Considered that the iconic blue USPS mailboxes were being removed throughout his state. ‘I don’t get it,’ Tester told NPR’s Ari Shapiro on Friday. ‘The Postal Service is important in all parts of this country, but in rural America it’s critically important whether you’re talking Social Security checks or whether you’re talking prescription drugs or parts for the farm or being able to vote.’” [NPR, 8/15/20]
Baltimore Sun: “Mail Service Delays Have Been Especially Painful During the Coronavirus Pandemic.” “Mail service delays have been especially painful during the coronavirus pandemic because so many customers rely on deliveries of unemployment debit cards, retirement checks, medications and, for the November presidential election, absentee ballots.” [Baltimore Sun, 8/10/20]
- Senator Chris Van Hollen Warned That “We Cannot Let These Problems Persist” as Americans Rely on the Postal Service for Medications. “’As Americans continue to rely on USPS for everything from paying bills, to prescription medicine deliveries, to exercising their right to vote, we cannot let these problems persist,’ said U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, also a Maryland Democrat.” [Baltimore Sun, 8/10/20]
Ohio Postal Worker Said That His Biggest Concern About the Future of USPS Was Delivering Medication. “Mail carriers in many ways are a lifeline for rural residents…Because most major delivery companies won’t deliver to rural areas, postal workers carry their packages for what they call ‘the last mile.’ Miller’s biggest concern about the Postal Service’s future? Delivering medication. Some days, Miller delivers as many as 30 packages of life-saving medication, everything from blood-pressure pills to cholesterol medicine. If mail delivery is reduced, Miller fears what might happen to one of his customers should a prescription runs out. ‘Just last week, I was delivering a package and the guy said to me, ‘Oh, thank God, I just took my last pill this morning.’” [Columbus Dispatch, 8/17/20]
- Rural Ohio Woman Depends On USPS for Medical Supplies, Saying Without the Postal Service, She’d Have to Drive to Columbus with a Weakened Immune System: “It’s Life or Death. That’s It.” “Carolyn Casey and her husband, Bill, know that feeling well. They’ve lived in their Gallipolis home for 49 years and have been customers on Miller’s route for most of that time.Carolyn, 69, gets medical supplies and testing equipment sent straight to her door multiple times a month. Without the Postal Service, she would have to drive to Columbus to pick up her supplies and pay more for FedEx or UPS to deliver her test results to New York. ‘When my immune system is down, I don’t want to be in big crowds,’ Carolyn said. ‘It’s life or death. That’s it.’” [Columbus Dispatch, 8/17/20]
Pennsylvania Woman Said She Is Facing Delays In Receiving Her Autistic Grandson’s Medication Through the Mail. “Valerie Rice said her mail has arrived only once every two weeks in July. She receives medication for her 25-year-old grandson, who has autism, through the mail. But now it doesn’t come on time, forcing her to go to different drugstores across the city, in hopes they have what he needs. ‘I try to stay by him and pray for life that I have what I need to take care of him,’ said Rice, 65.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 8/2/20]
82-Year-Old Houston Man Ran Out Of Heart Medication For The First Time As A Result Of USPS Delays. “Don White, 82, said he has been tracking the package and said it remained at a north Houston mail processing facility for 10 days. He’s hoping to get in on Monday. He said he’s irritated by the situation because his mail-order medication has never been this late before. ‘There have been a few times in which it’s taken a week, week and a half, two weeks, but this is the first time I actually ran out and checking with the post office didn’t do much good, even though I had a tracking number on it,’ White said.” [KHOU, 8/16/20]
Former Omaha Nurse Relies on USPS for Cancer Medications: “…If I Don’t Take That Metrosal Then the Cancer Can Pop Back Up.” “One Omaha woman says slowdowns in the mail service could be fatal for many vulnerable Americans. Lorraine Touray discovered she had breast cancer two years ago. ‘I had the surgery…I had a lumpectomy before the radiation,’ said Touray. Now she takes medication daily. ‘I get my meds through the mail…now if I don’t take that Metrosal and if I don’t take that Metrosal then the cancer can pop back up,’ said Touray.” [NBC Omaha, 8/17/20]
- Omaha Woman Warned That If the Mail Doesn’t Come, Veterans Won’t Receive Their Medications. “Lorraine spent 20 years working as a nurse at the veterans’ hospital. She knows that sometimes vets need to be monitored to make sure they even take their medications. ‘Now if the mail doesn’t come and the veterans don’t get their medications, they’re not going to get it. They’re not even going to go ask somebody to get their medicines they’ll just say, oh forget it,” said Touray.” [NBC Omaha, 8/17/20]