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Protect the Critical Roles the Postal Service Plays

Mary A. Pittman, DrPH, president and CEO of the Public Health Institute and 31 other women healthcare leaders call for protecting the U.S. Postal Service from proposed cutbacks. They note the Postal Service is vital to the fight against COVID-19, for supporting vulnerable populations, and for protecting Americans' right to vote, giving them a voice in setting the healthcare agenda.

  • Mary Pittman and Colleagues

We are writing as a diverse group of women healthcare leaders who represent medicine, nursing, hospitals, health systems, research, policy and finance. Healthcare is our industry, our professional identity and our life’s work. The health of American families is the cornerstone of our collective mission, vision and values.

We are deeply troubled by the changes already made, as well as postponed but threatened cutbacks at the U.S. Postal Service. We view preserving the Postal Service as vital to the fight against COVID-19 and the support of vulnerable populations like seniors, minorities and disabled people. We also look to the Postal Service to protect Americans’ right to vote, giving them a voice in setting the healthcare agenda.

None of us could function without a high-performing Postal Service. Each piece of the healthcare system—providers, insurers, government and suppliers—relies on a consistent, predictable mail service.

Cutbacks to mail delivery could short-circuit healthcare’s ability to prevent, diagnose and treat disease and deliver the kind of high-quality, safe, affordable care that Americans deserve.
The consequences of Postal Service slowdowns are especially dire for patients and their families. Millions of Americans, including rural residents, seniors, and 80% of veterans, rely on the post office to deliver medications, medical supplies, equipment and tests, and health information.

Americans with chronic conditions look to the Postal Service to deliver supplies, tests and medications to treat diseases like diabetes, cancer, asthma, epilepsy, heart failure, high blood pressure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, stroke and now COVID-19.

What would happen if patients and families could no longer depend on the timely delivery of supplies, equipment and medications—ranging from glucose monitors, nebulizers and orthopedic supports to colon cancer tests, surgical masks and medications for diabetes or heart disease? These products do more than enhance the quality of patients' lives. They save lives and extend lives.

What would happen if patients and families could no longer depend on the timely delivery of supplies, equipment and medications—ranging from glucose monitors, nebulizers and orthopedic supports to colon cancer tests, surgical masks and medications for diabetes or heart disease? These products do more than enhance the quality of patients’ lives. They save lives and extend lives.

The bottom line: The Postal Service delivers more than the mail; it delivers health and well-being. Unfortunately, recent cuts have put the life-saving capacity of the post office at risk. Groups like the Veterans Affairs Department, National Nurses United and the American College of Physicians have documented and zeroed in on the health risks of medication delays.

The issue is not how to slash Postal Service costs but how to expand and accelerate its services to strengthen the nation’s health. How could the Postal Service make it easier for Americans to secure medications and medical tests, equipment and supplies?

The Postal Service also plays a vital role in safeguarding Americans’ right to vote in the November presidential election. Americans rely on voting to make their voices heard on health and healthcare issues—from COVID-19, Medicaid and Medicare expansion and surprise billing, to the ACA’s future, drug prices and telehealth.

Americans deserve an easy, accessible and efficient mail-in voting system in this year’s election. Only then can Americans truly engage in their own health and design a vibrant national healthcare agenda for the coming decade.

Forcing in-person voting counters the advice of public health experts and puts vulnerable Americans at risk for the possible “twindemic” of flu and COVID-19.

America and American healthcare stand at a pivotal moment. The Postal Service must honor its commitment to deliver health-enhancing and life-saving supplies, tests, medications and equipment while exploring new ways to enhance and expand its core mission. Healthcare views the Postal Service as a business partner and champion of the right to vote. Let’s restore and strengthen its services. Our health and healthcare depend on it.

Stephanie C. Alexander, former CEO, PeraHealth; senior vice president and general manager of healthcare informatics, Premier

Madeline Bell, president and CEO, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Linda Bergthold, Ph.D., former principal, Willis Towers Watson and William M. Mercer

Odette Bolano, president and CEO, St. Alphonsus Health System

Dr. Christine Cassel, senior adviser on strategy and policy, department of medicine, University of California at San Francisco

Maureen Cotter, healthcare actuary

Dr. Molly Joel Coye, former health commissioner, New Jersey and California

Dr. Jennifer Daley, corporate medical executive

Alexandra Drane, co-founder and CEO of Rebel Health and Archangels

Susan Edgman-Levitan, executive director, MGH Stoeckle Center for Primary Care Innovation at Massachusetts General Hospital

Dr. Lisa Egbuonu-Davis, former vice president of patient outcomes and solutions, Sanofi; former vice president of U.S. Medical, Pfizer

Dr. Susan Ehrlich, CEO, Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center

Dr. Rebekah E. Gee, CEO for healthcare services, LSU Health

Elinor Hall, former administrator, Health Division, Oregon Department of Human Resources

Barbara B. Hill, former CEO, ValueOptions

Carmen Hooker Odom, former secretary of North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services

Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, University of Pennsylvania professor of medical ethics and health policy; president emerita, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Margaret Laws, president and CEO, Hopelab

Fawn Lopez, publisher and vice president, Modern Healthcare

Linda McGoldrick, non-executive chair, Financial Health Associates International

Kathy Mershon, former officer of a Fortune 500 healthcare company

Debra L. Ness, president, National Partnership for Women & Families

Amy Perry, CEO, Hospital Division, Atlantic Health System

Mary A. Pittman, DrPH, president and CEO, Public Health Institute

Dr. Deborah B. Prothrow-Stith, dean, College of Medicine, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science

Dr. Rita Redberg, professor of medicine, University at California at San Francisco

Dana Gelb Safran, ScD, former chief of performance measurement and improvement officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts

P.K. Scheerle, chairman and CEO, Gifted Healthcare

Nancy M. Schlichting, former president and CEO, Henry Ford Health System

Linda D. Sonntag, Ph.D., former general partner, Axiom Venture Partners

Lisa Suennen, leader of Manatt Digital and Technology and Manatt’s venture capital practice

Wendy White, chair emeritus, Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association; chair, Global Genes; co-founder, RareiTi

Originally published by Modern Healthcare


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