Health insurance standoff is bad for business

There’s a standoff between Reid Health and two area health insurance providers, Anthem and MDwise. Unless it’s resolved quickly, individuals purchasing health insurance outside of an employer’s group plan will not be able to use their insurance at Reid’s facilities unless it’s a medical emergency. According to the Palladium-Item, as of a few days ago it doesn’t look like this will be resolved in time for the open enrollment period that begins November 1.

This is bad for the nearly 3,000 people estimated to be affected by it. They may have to leave the city or even the county to get covered medical care, or be discouraged from seeking medical help when they need it. It’s bad for Reid Health, which has invested heavily and generously in serving this community.

It’s also bad for entrepreneurship.

When I first started a business in Richmond, my co-founder and I didn’t have the income to have the company provide group health insurance for us. We happily purchased basic individual health insurance policies and had no problems with coverage using local doctors. This continued for the first few years of our existence until we hired our first employee, and then we invested in a group insurance plan.

Given this standoff, if someone wanted to start a business here today and didn’t have access to health insurance through a family member, they’d be unable to find an individual policy that allowed them to have covered medical care through Reid Health. Indiana is one of the states that doesn’t allow “group of one” policies, so an entrepreneur would have to start hiring right away and commit to paying at least 50% of the premium costs for at least a handful of employees.

Continue reading Health insurance standoff is bad for business

Rigging elections in Wayne County?

There’s talk on the presidential election trail about whether the upcoming fall elections could be rigged to favor one outcome or another. It’s perhaps tempting to dismiss this as conspiracy theory talk by election losers-in-waiting, and maybe that’s all it is. But as someone who’s been following the transition to electronic voting systems and the challenges and potential liabilities they represent in maintaining the integrity of elections (see here and here) I thought it would be worth looking into the “riggability” of elections, at least at the local level here in Wayne County.

I checked in with Wayne County Clerk Debra Berry, who was very helpful in providing some information about our voting equipment and process beyond what’s available on the County’s voter information website. She clarified that we’re using the Hart InterCivic voting machines, which are used by hundreds of jurisdictions nationwide.

I asked about the specific modules and firmware versions we’re using on these machines, which could be helpful to anyone wanting to make sure we’re up to date with vendor provided improvements that address any known security issues:

Continue reading Rigging elections in Wayne County?

Why did I stay in Richmond?

A local student writing a research paper recently asked me a series of questions about my life here, including “why did you stay in Richmond?”

It’s a good question that I’ve been asked many times over the years. It’s a question I come back to periodically as I evaluate what I want in life and where I want to be. It’s a question I’ve watched friends and coworkers wrestle with. It’s a question that speaks to all who think about the future of this community.

I came to Richmond to attend Earlham College, and originally had no intention of sticking around any longer than necessary to complete my degree. The Earlham of that time did not do a good job of highlighting the city’s treasures for new students arriving on campus; many students and even some faculty spoke of it with disdain, a surrounding environment to be tolerated and endured instead of appreciated or enjoyed. As graduation day approached my peers and close friends made preparations to move; very few would even consider the possibility of staying in Richmond.  The momentum all around me was to launch oneself away from this place.

But for most of my senior year I had chosen to live off campus, in a rental house on South 4th street in the historic Old Richmond district. It was the perfect distance between campus, where I had a few classes to finish, and the downtown area, where the offices of my startup technology company were located. I could walk to both, and on those walks I began to see a different community than the one I’d only occasionally dropped in to for the previous three years. I began to see a community that was more than the stereotypes passed around the campus community: A place that used to be. A manufacturing hub that hadn’t caught up to globalization. Rednecks and racists. Boring and flat. Nothing to do. Nothing to see here.

Continue reading Why did I stay in Richmond?

A familiar byline returns

You may know that veteran Palladium-Item reporter Bill Engle retired from his position at the newspaper near the end of 2015. If you followed and appreciated his journalistic endeavors as much as I did over the years, you’ll agree that this was a real loss for local media coverage.

Happily, Bill has started his own site where he’s once again writing about news, events and issues in the Richmond community. You can check it out at, leave a comment, share a post, and subscribe for email updates.

Thanks, Bill, for sharing your perspective with us in this new way.

Trying something different

From today’s Pal-Item, local leaders are willing to try something different when it comes to helping people addicted to drugs.

We’re used to a lot of the rhetoric about drugs, drug addiction and related problems being focused on locking people up and getting them out of sight. The “war on drugs” has traditionally meant “get those people off our streets and out of our communities.”  But many of “those people” are part of our community. They need help, and apart from some of the most violent offenders sending them to jail doesn’t usually help in changing the underlying environment in which drug sales and addiction have flourished.

So it’s refreshing to see statements that bring a little more nuance to the situation.

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Thank you, Sally

Mayor Sally HuttonFormer Richmond Mayor Sally Hutton died yesterday.

I followed Mayor Hutton’s political career since arriving in Richmond. It always struck me how accessible, genuine and forward-thinking she was in her approach to community-building and city governance.

It felt like her door was literally always open – whether it be her office at the City Building, her house or wherever she found herself around town. Whatever she was working on, she seemed to keep the needs of Richmond’s everyday worker, resident and small business owner at the center of her perspective. Mayor Hutton was of the people, by the people and for the people in a way we rarely see with modern elected officials.

Continue reading Thank you, Sally

Help wanted, Director of IT

The City of Richmond needs to hire a Director of Information Technology. The position description is here, applications go to as noted here.

The person in this role will have some great opportunities to help shape how local government uses technology tools to be more efficient and effective. Yes, there are some things about the current infrastructure to clean up and no, IT in the public sector is probably not going to be as lucrative as it might be in the private sector. But it’s important work in the service of a city that can get caught up and then get ahead, and for a Mayor who has a strong appreciation for good technology management and its importance to running the City well.

I hope you’ll share the position opening with qualified IT professionals that you know, and help us get the right person in the job.