August 20, 2020

Warren, Casey Open Investigation into Delays in Mail-Order Prescriptions Resulting from Postal Service Sabotage by Trump Administration

Millions of Americans that rely on USPS for delivery of medications are at grave risk if President Trump's efforts to degrade the mail service cause delays and disruptions; Health threats magnified by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic DeJoy's vague promise to suspend changes leaves questions about potential for ongoing delays and disruptions

Letters to pharmacies (PDF)

Washington, DC - Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), member of the Senate Aging and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (HELP), and Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Ranking Member of the Senate Aging Committee and HELP Committee member, requested information from five of the largest mail-order pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) about any delays or other problems with mail-order deliveries of medications as a result of operational changes at the United States Postal Services (USPS) by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. Reports indicate that President Trump and Postmaster General DeJoy's sabotage of the USPS is resulting in significant delays for every type of mail - including life-sustaining prescription drugs for seniors, veterans, and millions of other patients. 

"Millions of Americans with diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, asthma, and other chronic conditions, illnesses or health care needs rely on the USPS for delivery of their prescription drugs and are at grave risks if President Trump's efforts to degrade the mail service results in delays and disruptions," wrote the senators. 

According to a report from the Philadelphia Inquirer, "Neighborhoods across the Philadelphia region are experiencing significant delays in receiving their mail, with some residents going upwards of three weeks without packages and letters, leaving them without medication, paychecks, and bills." Senators have also received reports from seniors waiting days for life-sustaining medications. The New York Times reported that patients have faced weeks-long mail delays, forcing them to skip needed medications. 

In 2019, over 170 million prescriptions were filled by mail in the United States.  Because more patients have sought socially-distant ways to access medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic, the potential impact of USPS delays on mail-order deliveries of medications is particularly concerning. Preliminary data indicates that in "the last week of March, mail-order prescriptions grew 21 percent  from the previous year"- bringing the mail-order prescription's share of the prescription drug market to the highest portion in the last two years. Major chain pharmacies have also indicated an increase in their mail-order prescription deliveries. 

There are urgent and ongoing concerns about the adverse impacts of Trump Administration policies on the quality and efficiency of the Postal Service and the implications of these policy changes for Americans across the country. Senators Warren and Casey asked the five major pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers (Cigna and Express Scripts, CVS Health, Walgreens Boots Alliance, UnitedHealth and Optum, and Humana) to provide information on the number of mail-order prescriptions they've filed each month this year, aggregate demographic information of customers receiving prescriptions, the percentage of prescriptions handled by USPS, and the average delivery time for calendar year 2019 and for each month of calendar year 2020. They also asked for information on patient complaints regarding delayed delivery of mail-order prescriptions, changes in business practices to ensure that mail order prescriptions are delivered to customers on time and the unanticipated costs of these changes, and whether they've experienced recent increases in USPS shipping costs for mail-order prescription drugs.