When docking a sailboat the old saying, “Slow is Pro” is the mantra. Most mistakes seem to happen when the heavy boat is moving too fast and can’t be maneuvered without banging off the dock or other boats. It takes time to change course when momentum has something going in a certain direction. Perhaps this is the best way to look at the decision last week to delay the employer mandate and penalty until 2015 for that piece of the Affordable Care Act.
The articles on both sides of the political spectrum are trying to spin the decision to support their beliefs and satisfy their followers. Those on the right say this is proof the law has flaws. All laws do and this is why modifications usually occur during the implementation phase. Some on the left are even saying this is great because it would be better if employees didn’t have to rely on their employers for healthcare coverage. Some would rather the government take over healthcare completely. Perhaps one of the most thoughtful pieces was Dr. Emanuel’s piece in the New York Times last week.
Ezekiel Emanuel is the oncologist brother of Rahm the mayor of Chicago and Ari the famous Hollywood agent “featured” on Entourage. It is important to note that he worked on the law and definitely has an interest in making sure it succeeds. His view is that the mandate is only a small piece of the reform and that the delay will not have a significant impact on the overall implementation. Yes, it might impact 1-1.5 million workers and delay their getting insurance but then again, it might not.
The key to whether the new law succeeds or not really depends on the viability of the healthcare insurance exchanges which will begin operations this October. If this free market tool results in real competition and allows small business owners and individuals to purchase insurance at reasonable rates, then the law will be a success with or without the mandate. The rapidly improving employment numbers over the last several months will also help pressure businesses to provide healthcare, or at least increase salaries enough so that employees can purchase their own.
I would say that it will be interesting to watch, but for those of us in healthcare that would send a terrible message. We can’t just watch but need to put all of our corporate intelligence towards determining how things will fall out and how our organizations can position themselves to benefit. Hopefully, this will also mean how we can help improve the overall system and the healthcare situation for everyone.
It is important to note that even though the sailor tries to move at a slow speed while docking, there is a tremendous number of things he or she is doing. They are not sitting idly by to see what will happen. They are constantly monitoring the wind, the currents, what other boats are doing and preparing their crews for a safe docking. They have their hand on the tiller or the wheel and are making small and constant changes to adapt to what is happening. Perhaps this is a good image for everyone in our industry to consider as we enter these turbulent times.