Lawmakers push USPS for 6-day deliveries

March 15, 2013

Politicians worried about patient medication shipments challenge the U.S. Postal Service over its recent decision to eliminate Saturday letter deliveries

Recently, the United States Postal Service (USPS) announced that it would be eliminating Saturday letter deliveries to save costs. Led by Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, a bipartisan group of 88 lawmakers rallied to voice concerns about how this new schedule could affect those who need their medications delivered on a consistent basis.

In a letter sent to Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe, Congresswoman Duckworth and the lawmakers urged the USPS to continue delivering medications to Americans 6 days a week.

Recipients can’t afford to wait

“Whether it is a homebound senior that cannot walk or drive to the pharmacy, or a veteran who lives in a rural area with limited access to the prescription drugs they need, all of these home-delivery beneficiaries cannot afford to go without their medications for days,” the lawmakers wrote.

Donahoe has said that the USPS is losing $25 million every day. His plan would end Saturday letter delivery starting in August but preserve 6-day package delivery. When fully implemented, the limited schedule would save $2 billion annually, estimates indicate.

In the letter, the lawmakers asked for further clarification of the formal definition of a package, as well as which classes of services will be included in the Saturday delivery. The group noted that some medications are sent in small plastic envelopes or through First-Class mail, which could be affected by the new schedule.

Need is growing

In their letter, the lawmakers also reported that the population that relies on home delivery for their medications is growing, which is good for the patients, USPS, and the government as a whole.

“According to the Department of Defense, the government saved $33 million in FY2010 alone through the use of TRICARE’s Home Delivery Program,” the authors wrote. “Home delivery is the most cost-effective way of filling prescriptions for TRICARE beneficiaries, and saves Medicare and Medicaid money as well.”

Donahoe has said that he wants to continue to work with Congress to clear up issues surrounding the 5-day schedule.

- Tara Camera, Content Editor