Healthcare and the Supply Chain: Why Values Must Precede Strategy

Many weeks have gone by now since the President signed the health care reform bill into law. What could have been a proud moment for the country has become a steady stream of recriminations, lawsuits to repeal the law and political energy aimed at wresting control of Congress from those who voted for the bill. Sadly, much of this could have been avoided. What could have been a strategic bipartisan solution to one of the country's major challenges instead produced a rushed, overly complicated and one-sided bill that advances a single viewpoint of the world and only agitates the continual strife between the right and the left. Surely this is not what hope and change were supposed to bring.

So what went wrong? Congress, advertising itself as representative body, allowed a majority within a minority to pass legislation based on the values of a few rather than determining the values of the many they represented. Now, even if the bill produces some positive benefits, many will be lost in the clash of cultures set to dominate the next ten years of implementation and confusion. An undertaking this large and this important surely deserved a chance to get it right. The key issue is whether or not health care is a right or a privilege, partly a legal and partly a moral issue. Had they given the American people a chance to answer that question -- while some would have been upset with the outcome -- there would have at least been the assurance that society had a chance to be heard, and the rest would have been comparatively easy. Instead we now can look forward to court cases and more political discord, largely centered around the unresolved issue of values related to rights versus privilege and the government's role in healthcare.

So how does this apply to the supply chain? It is vital that those who represent a company in its supply chain dealings share the company's values. This is more than just having read the mission statement. A company's reputation and negotiating leverage are built in large part on its values. If those values are compromised or watered down, existing and potential business partners are less likely to take on their share of risk in putting deals together -- in other words, there is a lack of trust, just like in Washington DC right now between the Democrats and the Republicans.

Lynn James Everard

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