Changes to USPS have caused ‘significant’ delays in the delivery of mail-order prescriptions – Daily Mail

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Changes to the US Postal Service implemented by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy have caused ‘significant delays’ in the delivery of mail-order prescriptions, jeopardizing the ‘health of millions of Americans’, a Senate investigation claims.

Conducted by Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bob Casey, the nine-page report says that average delivery times for prescription drugs have increased 18 percent to 32 percent after DeJoy, a close Trump ally who was appointed postmaster in June, changed delivery policies.

Warren and Casey said they were informed about the uptick in delivery times by several US pharmacies, who were not identified in the report. However, its publishing comes just three weeks after the lawmakers asked CVS, Walgreens and other companies to detail the effects of DeJoy’s changes.

‘The findings of our investigation reveal that your failure to fix the service delays caused by Postmaster General DeJoy represent an ongoing public health threat and a dereliction of your responsibility to the American public,’ the senators wrote.

Changes to the US Postal Service implemented by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy have caused ‘significant delays’ in the delivery of mail-order prescriptions, jeopardizing the ‘health of millions of Americans’, a new investigation claims

Changes to the US Postal Service implemented by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy have caused ‘significant delays’ in the delivery of mail-order prescriptions, jeopardizing the ‘health of millions of Americans’, a new investigation claims

Warren and Casey said they were informed about the uptick in delivery times by several US pharmacies, who were not identified in the report

 Warren and Casey said they were informed about the uptick in delivery times by several US pharmacies, who were not identified in the report

Typically, prescription drugs are delivered within two to three days, since many medications are temperature sensitive and some patients may require them immediately.

However, four prescription drug providers told Warren and Casey that delivery times across the summer have increased by half day or more, on average, in comparison to earlier in the year.

Deliveries that might typically take two or three days were instead taking three to four, the Democratic lawmakers said, and one pharmacy in particular reported seeing a ‘marked increase’ in the number of shipping delays at or exceeding seven days.

‘These delays are unacceptable outcomes under any circumstances, but are made even worse by the ongoing pandemic, which has increased demand for mail-order drugs as many Americans are affected by stay-at-home orders or choose to stay at home in order to remain safe,’ the Senators said.

Some of the delays appear to have commenced in May, when DeJoy was being considered for the position yet still to be appointed. This means that, at least some of the blame for them, can be placed on the coronavirus pandemic – particularly considering patients placed a new strain on the system by shifting away from in-person pickup to at-home delivery en masse.

DeJoy was called before both chambers of Congress in late August to explain the cause of the delays.

The former logistics executive, who has no previous Postal Service experience, said the sudden slowdown in July and August was a result of the pandemic, not the policies he had instituted, which includes enforcing truck departure times even if all of the mail is not yet loaded.

Of the changes, which also includes the removal mailboxes, he remarked that they ‘should not have impacted anyone’.

In a statement to the Washington Post Wednesday, USPS echoed DeJoy’s protests, writing: ‘Our workforce, like many others, have been impacted by the covid-19 crisis, which has resulted in certain service disruptions.’ 

Conducted by Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bob Casey, the nine-page report says that average delivery times for prescription drugs have increased 18 percent to 32 percent after DeJoy, a close Trump ally who was appointed postmaster in June, changed delivery policies

Bob Casey

Conducted by Democratic Senators (left to right) Elizabeth Warren and Bob Casey, the nine-page report says that average delivery times for prescription drugs have increased 18 percent to 32 percent after DeJoy, a close Trump ally who was appointed postmaster in June, changed delivery policies

 

‘These delays are unacceptable outcomes under any circumstances, but are made even worse by the ongoing pandemic, which has increased demand for mail-order drugs as many Americans are affected by stay-at-home orders or choose to stay at home in order to remain safe,’ the Senators wrote

‘These delays are unacceptable outcomes under any circumstances, but are made even worse by the ongoing pandemic, which has increased demand for mail-order drugs as many Americans are affected by stay-at-home orders or choose to stay at home in order to remain safe,’ the Senators wrote

However, Warren and Casey firmly place DeJoy at the center of the blame for the backlog of deliveries, accusing him of ‘sabotaging the Postal Service’.

‘Our investigation reveals his scheming has slowed the delivery of mail-order prescription drugs, threatening health risks for millions of Americans during a pandemic,’ Warren said.

‘Our report is more evidence that Louis DeJoy’s tenure has been a failure. He needs to resign and if he won’t, the Board of Governors must remove him.’

In the report, Warren and Casey note that only one of the pharmacies they contacted said they had experienced no significant disruption during the summer, however that provider did not rely exclusively on USPS.

Warren and Casey firmly place DeJoy at the center of the blame for the backlog of deliveries, accusing him of ‘sabotaging the Postal Service’

Warren and Casey firmly place DeJoy at the center of the blame for the backlog of deliveries, accusing him of ‘sabotaging the Postal Service’

The company wasn’t named, but Walgreens said in a separate statement that only an ‘extremely small percentage’ of its prescriptions are handled by the Postal Service, the Washington Post reported.

In 2019, more than 170 million prescriptions were filed by mail in the United States, according to the report, and the service became even more popular amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Pharmaceutical Care Management Alliance, whose members serve more than 260 million Americans, said it had seen a 17 percent increase in demand for mailed prescription drugs ‘in March 2020 as compared to March 2019,’ the report states.

Significant delays were experienced by all the pharmacies that ship prescription drugs via the Postal Service, the senators’ report said, with forced to swallow additional costs of $700,000 to $1 million because of the delays.

The lawmakers urged the USPS board to take immediate action against DeJoy, adding that ‘failure to fix the service delays caused by Postmaster General DeJoy represent an ongoing public health threat and a dereliction of your responsibility to the American public.’

In the reports, Warren and Casey note that only one of the pharmacies they contacted  - believed to be Walgreens - said they had experienced no significant disruption during the summer, however that provider did not rely exclusively on USPS

In the reports, Warren and Casey note that only one of the pharmacies they contacted  – believed to be Walgreens – said they had experienced no significant disruption during the summer, however that provider did not rely exclusively on USPS

On Monday, top House Democrats opened their own investigation into DeJoy, focusing on reports that Republican donor urged employees at his former business to donate to GOP candidates, then raised their salaries.

DeJoy has been under severe congressional scrutiny almost immediately after assuming the role of postmaster general on June 15, a role in which he’s aggressively sought to address the USPS’ $160 billion debt.

The initiatives he’s implemented in the name of austerity have sparked rebuke among Democrats, who fear service reductions and the removal of mailboxes could interfere with the 2020 presidential election.

DeJoy announced last month that he would suspend some of the significant changes to mail processing and delivery that’d he planned until after the November vote, but the pledge did little to silence his critics.

‘The steps that this Administration and Postmaster General DeJoy have taken to undermine the Postal Service have jeopardized the health and well-being of millions of Americans who rely on timely delivery of their prescriptions via the Postal Service,’ Casey said.

‘This report shows what we have feared all along — that Postmaster DeJoy’s efforts are having real, potentially life threatening, consequences for people that depend on the Postal Service.’

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