(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and Gary Peters (D-MI), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, are demanding immediate action following reports of significant delays in veterans’ prescription medications through the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).
In a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, Tester and Peters led 29 Senate colleagues in urging USPS to correct operational changes that are needlessly delaying veterans’ access to life-saving prescriptions.
“Veterans and the VA should be able to count on USPS for the timely delivery of essential prescription drugs,” the Senators wrote. “No veteran should have to wonder when their antidepressant or blood pressure medication may arrive – and the effects can be devastating if doses are missed.”
The Senators continued, “USPS needs to immediately cease operational changes that are causing mail delays so that veterans do not needlessly suffer from illnesses exacerbated by delayed medication deliveries. Those who gave so much to serve this country should be able to count on the nation’s Postal Service to deliver their medications in a timely manner.”
The VA fills about 80 percent of its prescriptions through their Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacy (CMOP), which primarily uses the U.S. Postal Service to deliver to veterans’ homes. The VA CMOP fills almost 120 million prescriptions a year, with deliveries arriving daily to about 330,000 veterans across the country. According to the VA website, “prescriptions usually arrive within 3 to 5 days.” Reports from veterans and VA staff have said that recently these medications are sometimes taking weeks to be delivered and causing veterans to miss doses of vital medications.
Tester is leading the charge in Congress to ensure USPS has the resources it needs to continue its vital mail delivery services during the pandemic. Earlier this week, he urged DeJoy to reverse the decision to not automatically consider election mail First Class mail, which would increase the cost of elections for already budget strapped states and disenfranchise voters. He also recently introduced bipartisan legislation to provide $25 billion in emergency assistance to help the agency recoup pandemic related losses and other operational expenses, and has pushed Senate leadership to make significant emergency investments in the USPS a part of any new coronavirus aid package, as well as to provide support and protective equipment for the agency's employees.
Read the Senators’ full letter HERE.