08.18.20

SCHUMER: LI VETS ARE PARTICULARLY HURT BY POSTAL DYSFUNCTION; REVEALS ABOUT 50,000 ON ISLAND HAVE VA MAIL-ORDER PHARMACY ACCESS FOR CRITICAL MEDS & RX; SENATOR PRESSURES PRESIDENT TRUMP, ON BEHALF OF VETS, TO GET DEJOY TO STOP THE MADNESS

VA Fills About 80% Of Veteran Prescriptions Using USPS Because Of High Accuracy & Lower Processing Costs; About 50,000 Vets Across LI Depend On This Service Functioning For Day-To-Day Meds To Treat Various Health Conditions 

LI Vets Join Schumer At Local Clinic In Push To Get POTUS To Force DeJoy To Stop The Undermining Before Further Damage Is Done 

Schumer: Local Vets Should Not Have To Go To War Over Getting Their Rx

In a national push, standing with some of Long Island’s 100,000 veterans, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer made the cogent case for President Trump, on behalf of local vets, to get Postmaster DeJoy to stop the madness at the postal service before the veteran prescription delivery service is systemically harmed. Schumer highlighted one of the most critical issues related to the disaster that has become the USPS: the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) and their Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacy (CMOP). The CMOP is the command center for a variety of critical vet medications. Schumer said that Long Island has a higher ratio of vets when compared to other parts of the state and that about half of these local vets (50,000) have access to the VA mail-order pharmacy for their medicines. Schumer, in urging action, said further delay in fixing the USPS disaster will mean real trouble for vets and their families on the issue of healthcare. He warned that further USPS undermining will not only end up costing more to get vets their meds, but that any slowing of these healthcare services could have serious consequences beyond financial ones.

“This dismantling of the U.S. Post office has some very bad consequences for our veterans, and we are here today to urge an end to the madness on their behalf,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “We need some real pressure on Postmaster DeJoy, and President Trump can be the one to deliver it on behalf of our vets and their daily medications. The VA fills about eighty-percent of veteran prescriptions using the USPS because it saves money and it is the fastest method. For Long Island, that means about 50,000 of our 100,000 Island veterans are impacted if the USPS all of the sudden drastically slows or even stops these shipments, and we cannot—must not—let that happen.”

According to the VA, since 2009, the Department of Veterans Affairs Mail Order Pharmacy has been rated “among the best” mail-order pharmacies in customer satisfaction according to the J.D. Power U.S. Pharmacy Study. They processed 119.7 million outpatient prescriptions in fiscal year 2016 alone via their system of 7 highly automated pharmacies. The VA Mail Order Pharmacy processes 470,000 prescriptions daily and every work day over 330,000 Veterans receive a package of prescriptions in the mail.  The VA utilization of VA Mail Order Pharmacy results in exceptional accuracy and lower processing costs than filling prescriptions at each VA Medical Center.

Schumer warned, in the last month, since USPS instituted dramatic operational changes, there have been troubling reports across the country of veterans waiting weeks for their prescriptions to arrive due to delays at USPS. VA’s website states that “prescriptions usually arrive within 3 to 5 days.” However, veterans and VA staff have said that as of recently, these medications are often taking weeks to be delivered. Schumer has said that most troubling is that these delays are entirely avoidable and that veterans and the VA should be able to count on USPS for the timely delivery of essential prescription drugs.

“Look, our local vets should not have to go to war over getting their daily prescriptions,” Schumer added.

“With approximately 52,000 veterans, Nassau County is home to one of the largest veteran populations in the entire country,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. “A slow down of mail service will have a detrimental effect on all those who depend on the mail to deliver their monthly prescription drugs, including some of our most vulnerable vets. Thank you Senator Schumer for fighting to restore full service to the post office.”

Access to prescription medications is especially integral during the COVID-19 pandemic, Schumer said in a recent letter to the VA, when routine health care appointments may be delayed or cancelled. Schumer said that no veteran should have to wonder when their antidepressant or blood pressure medication may arrive because the effects can be devastating if doses are missed.

Thousands of veterans, including more than 2,200 veterans who were VA patients, have already died from the novel coronavirus, according to reports. Schumer said USPS needs to work directly with VA to remedy this issue so that veterans do not needlessly die from illnesses exacerbated by delayed medication deliveries.  According to reports in Military Times and the Associated Press, memos from post office leadership, obtained by The AP, detailed an elimination of overtime and a halting of late delivery trips that are sometimes needed to make sure deliveries arrive on time. One document said if distribution centers are running behind, “they will keep the mail for the next day.” Another said: “One aspect of these changes that may be difficult for employees is that — temporarily — we may see mail left behind or mail on the workroom floor or docks.”

Additional records obtained by the AP outline upcoming reductions of hours at post offices, including closures during lunch and on Saturdays. According to other wide reports, Department of Veterans Affairs prescriptions mailed by the U.S. Postal Service in the past year have seen delays of nearly 25%, which the agency recently told a national veteran service organization. Schumer says this is very concerning and that the current actions taken by Postmaster DeJoy only make things worse.

The destructive changes, Schumer notes, include the elimination of extra mail transportation trips, the reduction of overtime, the start of a pilot program for mail sorting and delivery policies at hundreds of post offices, and the reduction equipment at mail processing plants. Schumer said these decisions absolutely have an impact on Long Island vets, a case he made to the postmaster in person earlier this month.

Schumer has been arguing, that in the midst of a pandemic, these actions to undermine the postal service are causing mail delays across the country and are unacceptable. In April, according to Time, the U.S. Postmaster General, told the Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that revenue losses this fiscal year could reach $13 billion. Schumer said that the USPS is like any other business that has been provided relief and assistance and that the numbers prove they’ve been hard hit—and that if action is not taken soon on their behalf, and the dismantling ended, the consequences would be very bad for many people, including local veterans.

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