Daily Archives: January 25, 2016

Paul Ralston’s vanity project

This political season, with its rare turnover in the top ranks, has generated quite a bit of activity from politicos whose aspirations are no surprise — Phil Scott, Bruce Lisman, Matt Dunne, Sue Minter, TJ Donovan, etc. — but it’s also created some real headscratchers. There are people running for high office who cause me to wonder, “Who asked for this?”

So far, this category largely centers on the race for lieutenant governor, which has attracted a pair of high-profile liberal lawmakers and a trio of candidates who seemingly came out of nowhere: Brattleboro-area investment dude Brandon Riker, recently repatriated Washington journalist Garrett Graff, and Rutland-area doctor Louis Meyers. Nothing against these worthies or their noble intentions; but really, who asked for this?

Now comes another would-be candidate from out of nowhere, giving his own distinctive twist to this narrative: former State Representative and Vermont Coffee Company founder Paul Ralston. He has declared his potential candidacy for An Office To Be Named Later, under the banner of A Party To Be Named Later Or Maybe Independent, and created his own weekly radio show as a platform for his amorphous ambition.

Nothing against Paul Ralston; he makes my favorite coffees, a hell of a lot better than that Keurig sludge. But this whole thing strikes me as a vanity project more than anything else.

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Just what we needed: More bad news on Vermont Health Connect

The headline says it all, thanks to Erin Mansfield of VTDigger:

VERMONT HEALTH CONNECT IS GOING BACKWARD, STAKEHOLDERS SAY

The “stakeholders” are Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont and Vermont Legal Aid, an unlikely pairing to be sure. BCBS is calling for an independent review of the troubled health care exchange, and Legal Aid is fielding scores of complaints from “frustrated consumers.”

“We’re going backwards,” said Trinka Kerr, the chief health care advocate for Vermont Legal Aid. “Towards the end of last year, we were making progress. You could get things straightened out relatively quickly, and now things are more complicated than they used to be.”

Some of Governor Shumlin’s high-profile declarations of victory are now looking inoperative. The “change of circumstance” function, which was supposed to be a benchmark for VHC, had to be taken off line because it simply wasn’t ready to handle the workload. And as a result, the backlog is back!

Yes, VHC has a backlog of change orders numbering about 4,000. To put that number in perspective, VHC has a total of 33,000 customers who buy individual policies through the website.

Now, I stopped being good at math in about the seventh grade, but to me that looks like the backlog amounts to 12 percent of all customers served. Which is, in a word, dreadful.

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