Post office troubles concern providers

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Friday, August 28, 2020

YARMOUTH, Maine – A perfect storm of delays at the U.S. Postal Service combined with an increase in demand for mail-order supplies due to the COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges for providers. 

For Doral, Fla.-based US Med, the biggest issue is that Medicare requires beneficiaries to refill their prescriptions within a certain timeframe, says Mary Ellen Conway, chief compliance officer. 

“It’s a very short window for refills of diabetes testing supplies, and there is not a lot of flexibility,” she said. “If they have four days left and you ship and there are mail delays, the testing supplies get delayed.” 

In 2019, the USPS shipped more than 1.2 billion prescriptions, according to the American Diabetes Association, but in March, it saw a 21% increase. 

The ADA last week sent a letter to USPS Postmaster Louis DeJoy expressing its concerns on the effect delays could have on the more than 133 million Americans with chronic conditions like diabetes who rely on the mail for life-saving medications and supplies. 

New Orleans-based Diabetes Management & Supplies has used USPS in the past but has found, despite lower shipping rates, it wasn’t worth the hassle, says Cynthia Pazos, president. 

“If shipments were delayed, they were hard to track,” she said. “Even using next day or two-day shipping, it doesn’t always get there.”  

Instead, Diabetes Management & Supplies sticks with UPS, Pazos says. 

“I may pay a bit more in shipping costs, but at least I know they are going to be delivered,” she said. 

Still, UPS and FedEx are not immune from what’s happening at USPS, says Adam Greenberg, president and founder of Northshore Care Supply, a Chicago-based provider of specialty incontinence supplies. 

“All of the carriers have been experiencing delays due to the surge in e-commerce shipments post-COVID,” he said. “With the recent public struggles at USPS, NorthShore will continue to focus our efforts with FedEx, who is making every effort to prioritize deliveries for medical supplies and other essential items.”