Violent execution

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 444 views 

Yesterday while reading, I discovered this quote by General George Patton: “A good plan violently executed NOW is better than a perfect plan next week.”

His quote caused me to pause and ponder.

President Obama and his entourage could claim General Patton’s quote as justification for the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Let’s just pass the health care bill and we can fix the imperfections later.

I imagine General Patton used this quote in the context of war, a subject that he had spent his life studying – a subject of which he could claim expertise. President Obama and the U.S. Congress could not claim with any credibility that they had expert knowledge of health care reform, especially since most had not even read the bill before they voted the bill into law.

Patton didn’t say ANY plan was better than a perfect plan. He said a GOOD plan was better than a perfect plan. Whether good or bad, we have a healthcare plan. We just haven’t experienced the “violently executed” part yet.

Yet, in six months and a few days, 2014 arrives and with it the violence of Obama Care’s more significant implementation. The violence won’t be physical. It will be financial. It will be mental. It will be emotional.

The mandate that individuals buy health insurance starts Jan. 1, 2014. Individuals not covered by health insurance in 2014 will pay a penalty enforced by the IRS. Health insurance exchanges will be created. Millions of individual will suffer mental anguish evidenced by spitting and gnashing of teeth due to misinformation and misunderstandings of accurate information. Imagine the decline of worker productivity due to the workplace conversations where workers will seek the truth by interrupting the workflow of other uninformed workers.

The mandate that “large” employer’s offer health insurance to their employees also starts Jan. 1, 2014. Failure to comply with these mandates could result in penalties. Already business owners are showing their misunderstanding of the law. That is to be expected. The rules and regulations for business owners to understand are many and complex.

Obama Care will incite many businesses to outsource business processes rather than hire additional employees. Other businesses won’t be affected because they already provide health insurance as an employee benefit. Circumstances will be unique to different businesses.

The delivery of health care will change.

Americans may have to alter their expectation of what excellent healthcare means. Why? Obama Care did not address the shortage of physicians that will result due to the millions of people who will now have better access to the health care system.

You can expect clinics to employ more physician assistants who, although they are capable, have less medical training than physicians. Nobody will talk or post blog entries about the success of physician assistants, but somewhere some physician assistant will overlook a serious medical condition and someone will die. Then the newscasts and blog posts will abound claiming the decline of health care in the United States. But people that would have died because they had no access to real healthcare will now live.

If alive today, I’m not sure General Patton would call the Affordable Care Act a good plan. Maybe a good intentioned law, but probably not a good plan. I’m not a historian, but I would expect Patton had many occasions in his career where he had to deal with the unexpected and reacted with the resources at hand that ended with a decent outcome.

A business owner should see the wisdom in General Patton’s admonition, especially in context of Obama Care. “A GOOD plan violently executed NOW is better than a PERFECT plan next week.”

With only six months to go until 2014 arrives, have you determined the costs, if any, that the new provisions of the Affordable Care Act will cost your company? Have you thought about how your industry might change? The questions you need to ask yourself and then answer are many.

It’s time to plan for 2014. The plan won’t be perfect due to the lack of information available. Nevertheless, you need to analyze the effect of the changes on your cost structure, your cash flow, and your industry trends.

One of the first anecdotes I learned when I started my career was “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” I have no idea who to attribute the saying to. I’m sure attribution to Mark Twain or Ben Franklin will do.

But for some of you, in 2014, this anecdote will become a truism.