Greetings Leaders!

Like most of you, I have been following the attempt to get some kind of health care reform legislation passed. If you look at the statistics it’s hard to argue for the status quo and I think most people would agree that we need to do something. Sounds like the start of a project doesn’t it?

In starting any kind of project there are a lot of things to consider to ensure you get off on the right foot. Two critical pieces are defining the problem you are trying to solve and then establishing success factors that will allow you to know you’ve reached your goal. This hasn’t been done for health care reform and I am worried that we are going to waste a lot of time and money chasing our tails.

What is the goal of health care reform? I keep hearing, “to ensure health care insurance is available to every American.” I think that is a worthy goal… but it is not specific enough. What kind of insurance are we going to be giving? I’ve heard affordable – but what does that mean? Currently, my insurance plan is terrible, but it is the only one I can afford ($400/month for major catastrophic coverage).To get “full” coverage (which I’ll define as paying a small (let’s say under $30) copay to visit a “provider”. Full lab benefits, inpatient stays (after a small deductible), outpatient surgeries (medically necessary) and a drug plan that limits my out of pocket expenses to let’s say $100/month), I would have to pay about $1,200/month for my wife and I. Based on my income, that is not “affordable”. So, if this legislation passes, and I am required to pay $1,000/month… I am not going to be happy. Neither will most Americans. So what does affordable mean? I’m not sure. If you were leading a project based on this requirement, I’d say you were heading for a cliff in a rowboat with no oars.

How about cost? I know this is being debated, and I’ve heard the arguments from both sides. What bothers me is that we really don’t know with a high degree of certainty what the cost will be. Our politicians have politicized this issue so much, that we can’t (at least I can’t) decipher the truth, and I like to think I am of at least average intelligence. If this were a project, what are the chances that it would come in under or “on” budget? Not very likely.

What needs to happen, is that a long term plan for health care reform needs to be established. Problems should be identified and prioritized, then tackled one at a time. Something should be done so that whoever our next President is, can’t change course in mid-stream. I know… we don’t have time to plan. At least that is what our politicians are telling us. Again, how many of you as project managers have heard THAT before. And… what did that do to your chances of project success? Uh – huh. The fact that we crammed through a health care package before the end of the year is supposed to make me happy. I don’t think so.

What are your thoughts?

All the best!
All the time!
JT

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