Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A time but mostly a place for everything (UPDATED)

(please scroll down for update)

When you go to these management seminars one of the management-speak axioms you may learn is, “Under-promise, Over-deliver”.

This is the concept of initially lowering expectations so that you give yourself a greater opportunity of exceeding those same expectations when its time to deliver the goods later on and all of which makes you look like a star. It is a concept that is lost on the federal government when it comes to the H1N1 vaccination effort but to its credit, it can’ help itself.

Earlier this month, the government was forced to announce that only about 28 million doses would be available by the end of this month, about 30 percent below the 40 million it had previously predicted. That is not enough to satisfy panicky people who are lining up for vaccine around the country or desperately phoning their doctors and public health departments.

But the October shortfall was not the first. Indeed, since the outbreak of the H1N1 swine flu occurred in April, federal projections have been consistently and wildly overoptimistic and have had to be ratcheted down several times. As recently as late July, the government was predicting having 160 million doses by this month.

And to show you are hearts are in the right place, let’s just start by saying this is not an Obama thing just as Katrina wasn’t a Bush thing in the way it was portrayed in the media. What this is, however, is a big, unwieldy, emotionally-detached bureaucratic thing.

And when undertaking huge national efforts like this, we are not necessarily saying the federal government with all its assets and infrastructure is not the best entity to handle a massive undertaking as potentially vaccinating hundreds of millions of people.

As Americans, we accept inefficiencies and under-deliveries when it comes to efforts like this. We accept the fact that the armed forces are going to be an extremely wasteful and inefficient entity while waging war. The goal is victory and not the carbon footprint. And the goal here is simple: produce the vaccine, distribute the vaccine, and administer the vaccine. We said simple, not easy.

But the finer and more intricate details of healthcare and in particular the personal aspects of you and your family’s healthcare is not served well by this blunt force trauma “Win the War” mindset of the federal government.

This is why it is so curious to hear about the savings that will be accrued in healthcare by actually having more federal government involvement. The government will only make things more efficient, or more accurately, less expensive by limiting the choices to what health care options we have already. This is an inescapable fact.

At the end of the day, the federal government is no more qualified to be directly or indirectly involved in your personal healthcare decisions than was the Delaware National Guard in defeating the Nazis and Imperial Japan in World War II.

(UPDATE #1): B-Daddy has a more cynical take on Obama’s reasons for declaring the swine flu a national emergency but were not inclined to be so much so. The President is in a small bind here. Let’s say the swine flu does indeed blow-up – the President will look like he was not out in front of this. He’s hedging on the side of caution and for that we can’t blame him.

Now, we won’t deny that there is some political motivation behind this. With his current dithering on the Afghanistan question, he needs something… anything in which to appear as the more forceful and decisive Commander-in-Chief than what we are seeing currently.


SarahB said...

If you think B-Daddy is jaded on this one (although I have to agree with him a little), my husband is convinced this is just a CDC dry run/dress rehearsal for some future outbreak of something truly pandemic. They want to see how fast they can roll out a vaccine, convince the public they need it, and get everyone to cooperate in administering it systematically. Not sure if I think that is necessarily a bad thing or not.

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