The unconsidered IT cost of Obamacare

Implementation of Obamacare will means additional costs and implementation time that would not have passed in my day. Photo: Obamacare System Net

MISSOURI, April 6, 2013 – There are horror stories regarding Obamacare. One not heard much about is the cost of implementing the computer systems required to execute the programs that will allow Obamacare to work.

Sounds like a child’s rhyme. 

Just imagine the cost and the massive time frame that will prevent the execution of Obamacare. It is my opinion that this “Technical Gorilla” will be the brick wall to the implementation of this legislation.

What will it take?

One of the first steps that must be made is to identify the requirements relative to each agency, a long list that begins with the IRS, HHS, Treasury, SSA State Exchanges, Insurance Companies, Corporations, Small Business, and Medicare. I may have missed on or another, but you get the picture and that picture is that this is an Integrated System with many players, and with that comes embedded turf wars.

And unless I missed it, what about the doctors having to provide information for Obamacare? Having identified the above organizations, corporations and insurance companies that will be required to modify their computer systems, there will also be a need for standardized report interfacing between each group, including the health care provider.


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As significant program considerations like “Obamacare” threaten the financial integrity and stability of this nation, the decision-makers need to get all the participants involved before making any broad sweeping changes that will affect the country and citizenry.

Developers and implementers of Obamacare should be required to provide input to the projects relative cost and time? This is important before the cost of Obamacare increases dynamically. 

Implementation of Obamacare will means additional costs and implementation time that, in my day, would not have passed without being identified early in the process. 

For example, when my organization was required to implement a system based upon a requirement such as engineering to develop and implement the CAD system, I along with my functional counterpart would develop an ROI. My part was resources required, cost and timeframe. The user provided the tangible and intangible benefits.


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This was followed by approval of the top executives.

Now hypothetically speaking, this first step has been accomplished, but now we will address the resource requirements. Subject matter specialist will be required to work with the system analyst to define their specific requirements that will include interfaces in order to support day-to-day operations.  A systems analyst with the ability to work with subject specialist will develop systems requirements and documents for the programmers.  

Programmers, depending on what languages are being used will require those skill sets. A lot of that code is written in COBOL and the last time I have seen that skill set was when we worked on Y2K.  That was thirteen years ago and in order to get those programmers to the desk, we had to bring them out of retirement.

Technical and Subject Matter Specialists -Writers to develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the massive amount of end users and SOP’s for operations will need to be developed.

Will we need computer equipment in order to test and migrate to production?

The problem is we most likely do not have that computer capacity necessary in order to test systems to be followed by migration to production. There is the question of mainframes, desktops and other devices, such as laptops, handhelds and tablets routinely used in medical offices and hospitals, all of which will need support driver interfaces.

Leading to the question will vendors have to get involved with hardware/software packages, etc.? 

There is so much more to consider as to the magnitude of this impossible endeavor, but one thing that needs to be talked about is the cavalier attitude of “we need this so we have to have it” without considering the ramifications of actually instituting a national health care system.

As a private citizen I can’t understand why our politicians talk about a problem but can’t fix them. A great case in point is the money the government wastes on duplicate programs. I come from the business world. When we did projects, we had to get management approval.

We had to provide documentation addressing the return on investment before they would approve or disapprove of the funding. 

There is so much to the implementation of this program that I haven’t even touched on such as “How are they going to get their hands around this beast in order to address the WHO-WHAT-HOW and WHEN to start developing new systems and modify current systems on all levels and related interfaces in order to implement this “TECHNICAL GORILLA?”

And who will be in command? I bet each organization has their “turf” to protect. We are talking about thousands of people made up of many skills and hundreds of personnel with management skills and knowledge of their respective areas of responsibilities in order to address the requirement needed, to develop/modify current systems, to test and sign off as ready-to-go, and to ultimately implement the Obamacare Program.

It is my sincere opinion that the system will never be implemented as currently defined (meaning what we currently are aware of) because as of this writing, we are still discovering what’s in the program.

Which is as insane as passing the bill in order to try to understand it.

“So, that’s why I was saying we have to pass a bill so we can see so that we can show you what it is and what it isn’t,” Pelosi continued. “It is none of these things. It’s not going to be any of these things.” She recognized that her comment was “a good statement to take out of context.” But the minority leader added, “But the fact is, until you have a bill, you can’t really, we can’t really debunk what they’re saying….”

And with that utterance from House Minority Leader, everyone should have screamed, “STOP.”

But what the heck we have a lot of taxpayer money right. A surplus. An under control functional budget.

A Current example of the Government’s inability to develop Integrated Systems is the backlog for veteran’s claims, which has increased over the past five years. The problem stems from the VA and the Defense Department being unable to communicate with one another via computer systems.

To think we could effectively implement a national health care system like Obamacare is clearly insanity at the highest of Government’s level. 

But that’s just from the time and place I am from.


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More from Charles Vandegriffe Time and Place
 
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Charles Vandegriff, Sr.

Charles is a fifty-four-year career in technology retiring at the directors level from three major corporations. Followed by three-plus years as a free-lance columnist, published three books, over three hundred speeches to senior organizations, radio interviews, one television commercial and finally married for sixty-five years, four children, seven grandchildren and thirteen great grand children. 

Charles is also a Navy veteran.

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