Tuesday, June 06, 2006

How bad is it getting at HHSC?

According to my sources who are still on the inside, it continues to get worse every day. Timeliness is swirling down the toilet, and the corrective action plan is not to change course from an unworkable plan that is doomed to end in disaster, but to make staff take time away from their work to be retrained on Food Stamp timeliness policies... as if the problem was that people didn't know that applications should be worked in less than 5 months.

Also, staff have been working nearly every Saturday, just so as to have a day that they could wrap up cases without the phone ringing off the hook, and people waiting to see them in the lobby... however, it is now being suggested that they make working Saturday mandatory, and that they open up the office and schedule more appointments, thus eliminating the primary reason people have been working on Saturday voluntarily.

What people who have never actually worked cases do not understand (and these seem to be the people making all the decisions) is that you can interview people all day every day, and not certify a single case. To actually issue benefits, you need some time when you are not interviewing people in order to wrap those cases up, make sure that they are correct, and process them. Otherwise you are just spinning your wheels.

It seems that with the election cycle kicking into high gear in the near future, some people are getting nervous about how all of this will affect their chances of re-election. These "solutions" are non-solutions, that only result in giving the appearance of "doing something". It has long been the case that government agencies such as HHSC approach every problem with the assumption that there is no problem that training and a new report cannot fix. However, when you have a complete breakdown, such as we are now seeing, this is something like providing training to the crew of the Titanic on iceberg evasion, after the ship is already sinking. It may make some people feel better to know that someone is "doing something", but the "something" they are "doing" is a complete waste of time.

Also, with HHSC trying desperately to hang on to the staff they still have who actually know how to work a case, it seems a rather short sighted approach to burn those people out by insisting that they work 6 days a week, when this will obviously result in lower morale, more unplanned leave, and more people who simply find another place to work.

Personally, I thank God that I am no longer at HHSC, even though I often miss the way it used to be and the people I used to work with. Until they hit bottom, and start actually "doing something" to fix this problem, I can't see why anyone would want to stay that wasn't just hanging on to retire in the next year or two.