Washington, D.C. -- Following last week's proposal by the United States Postal Service (USPS) to move to a new five-day delivery schedule for certain mail, Iowa Congressman Tom Latham has joined a bipartisan group of colleagues in sending a letter to Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe asking that prescription drugs continue to be delivered on a six-day-a-week basis.
Under the USPS' proposal, standard and first-class mail would no longer be delivered on Saturdays, while packages, express and Priority mail would retain a six-day delivery schedule. However, it is possible that certain methods by which prescription drugs are delivered may not be eligible for Saturday delivery. For instance, some medications are mailed in small plastic envelopes that do not fit the traditional definition of "package", while others are mailed through first-class service and thus may be eliminated for Saturday delivery.
"Whatever anyone thinks of the USPS' decision to move to a five-day delivery schedule, we can all agree that seniors, disabled Americans, service members and Veterans should continue to receive the medicines they depend on in a timely fashion," Congressman Latham said. "While the USPS absolutely needs to take steps to improve its financial standing, those steps should not come at the expense of providing for the Iowans and all other Americans who rely upon routine postal delivery the most."
The letter to Postmaster General Donahoe is reprinted in full below.
Patrick R. Donahoe
Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer
United States Postal Service
475 L'Enfant Plaza, Southwest
Washington, DC 20260
Dear Postmaster General Donahoe:
On behalf of the undersigned Members of Congress, I would like to express our concern with your recent announcement to end the United States Postal Service's tradition of six-day mail delivery and its effect on the growing population of seniors, servicemen and women, Veterans, and disabled Americans that rely on home delivery of their prescription drugs. Some of us are opposed to the new 5-day delivery schedule, others have welcomed it; regardless, all of us want to ensure that our constituents will be able to receive the medications that they depend on, in a timely manner.
In our home districts, Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, VA and other beneficiaries currently rely on low cost delivery of prescription drugs to their doorstep. 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. Nor should they have to obtain their medications through more costly delivery methods, which would only draw business away from the USPS and threaten its long term financial stability.
This growing population of home delivery prescription beneficiaries is not only good for the USPS and patients, but our government as a whole. According to the Department of Defense, the government saved $33 million in FY2010 alone through use of TRICARE's Home Delivery Program. Home delivery is the most cost effective way of filling prescriptions for TRICARE beneficiaries, and saves Medicare and Medicaid money as well. This integral part of the USPS's services should not be changed in your reform and restructuring of the federal postal service.
Ahead of your testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Operations Committee on Wednesday, February 13, we would like you to lay out specific guidelines that would include prescription drugs in 6-day package delivery. Although you have mentioned that packages will be included in Saturday delivery, we would like further clarification on which classes of service and formal definitions of package you will consider.
Some medications are mailed in small plastic envelopes that don't fit in the traditional definition of package, while others are mailed through first class service and thus, may be eliminated on Saturdays depending on your guidance. Please ensure that they properly examine all the ways in which prescription drugs are mailed through USPS, and exempt them from your new 5-day delivery schedule.
We look forward to hearing your response and working together to ensure the quality of service provided to our constituents will remain the same, and that the Postal Office grows its business and stays strong for the decades to come.