Wyden and Merkley take up the cause of USPS, citing delayed prescriptions and ballot impacts

Oregon's U.S. Senators are demanding that the Postal Service leadership immediately address delays to prescription medications and the potential threat to mailed ballots.

Posted: Aug 18, 2020 11:06 AM
Updated: Aug 19, 2020 3:46 PM

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Oregon's U.S. Senators are demanding "immediate action" from the Trump-appointed chief of the U.S. Postal Service, citing reports of significant delays in the delivery of prescriptions medications for veterans.

Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden joined 29 other senators in a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, urging USPS to correct recent changes that are "needlessly delaying" veterans' access to prescription medications.

“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.”

According to the senators, the VA fills about 80 percent of its prescriptions for veterans by mail, primarily using USPS for delivery. Deliveries generally arrive to about 330,000 veterans per day across the country.


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While the VA typically promises that those prescriptions will arrive within 3 to 5 days, Merkley and Wyden said that they have received reports from veterans and VA staff that they are now taking up to several weeks for delivery.

Merkley and Wyden joined several other members of Oregon's Congressional delegation in penning a letter to DeJoy last week, urging him to reverse a decision that would not automatically designate ballots as First Class mail — increasing the cost of elections "for already budget-strapped states" and threatening "to disenfranchise voters."

“Unexpected delays at any point during this window could easily prevent Oregonians’ and Americans’ ballots from counting in the November 3 general election,” the Oregon lawmakers wrote. “USPS’ own General Counsel Thomas Marshall has said the same. Make no mistake: We consider these contrived delays to be blatant election interference.”

Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno addressed the election mail concerns in a statement last week after receiving a letter from USPS warning of potential impacts if ballots aren't sent with plenty of turnaround time or aren't labeled First Class mail.

“Fortunately, Oregon has two decades of experience working with our local contacts at the United States Postal Service and has an excellent partnership with them to ensure ongoing support for our elections," Clarno said. "We will of course continue to work with them and monitor any potential impact to both the mailing out of ballots to voters and the return of ballots."

On Tuesday, in an apparent response to the growing pressure to preserve USPS' ability to process and deliver election mail, DeJoy issued a statement promising to suspend changes at the agency until after the election.

"I came to the Postal Service to make changes to secure the success of this organization and its long-term sustainability," DeJoy said in part. "I believe significant reforms are essential to that objective, and work toward those reforms will commence after the election. In the meantime, there are some longstanding operational initiatives — efforts that predate my arrival at the Postal Service — that have been raised as areas of concern as the nation prepares to hold an election in the midst of a devastating pandemic. To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded."


EDIT: This story has been updated with the information about DeJoy's August 18 statement.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 190804

Reported Deaths: 2528
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah37830583
Washington25279229
Marion21739306
Clackamas17107209
Lane12799145
Jackson10716135
Deschutes866973
Umatilla814084
Linn479867
Yamhill441175
Klamath430861
Polk369952
Malheur349861
Josephine330268
Douglas322070
Benton302619
Jefferson216734
Coos204633
Columbia170526
Union144423
Lincoln137020
Wasco137028
Hood River117930
Morrow110015
Crook106520
Clatsop9738
Baker94614
Curry6459
Tillamook6363
Grant5065
Lake4447
Harney3378
Wallowa1825
Gilliam621
Sherman581
Wheeler281
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3757115

Reported Deaths: 62280
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles123542224008
Riverside2990644587
San Bernardino2965144697
San Diego2777593725
Orange2707055005
Santa Clara1188512085
Kern1089931373
Sacramento1041761672
Fresno1016251684
Alameda875851545
Ventura808421011
San Joaquin730091391
Contra Costa68503804
Stanislaus619161055
Tulare49554839
Monterey43563382
San Mateo41844568
San Francisco36616543
Santa Barbara34306453
Solano32752249
Merced31743458
Sonoma29975318
Imperial28352721
Kings22965246
Placer22550290
San Luis Obispo21282260
Madera16439242
Santa Cruz16188206
Marin14034228
Yolo13875209
Shasta12071226
Butte11943199
El Dorado10111112
Napa984981
Sutter9411111
Yuba622146
San Benito604863
Lassen569824
Tehama555358
Nevada470775
Tuolumne412364
Mendocino406149
Humboldt393539
Amador365147
Lake346743
Glenn238125
Colusa223016
Siskiyou218123
Calaveras212153
Inyo142638
Del Norte13678
Mono12804
Plumas7066
Modoc4954
Mariposa4457
Trinity3995
Sierra1120
Alpine880
Unassigned330
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