Once upon a time I ran a news site, now I just have opinions on the news. 

Good morning, RVA: Health insurance help, big bus news, and nominate a student

Good morning, RVA! It's 50 °F, and serious wind is in the forecast again. Expect temperatures in the upper 60s to be tempered by Big Time Gusts.

Water cooler

Yesterday, I was confused by the compromise reached with House of Delegates Republicans to expand Medicaid that would lower subsidies to low-income customers while raising subsidies for middle-income customers. I asked for some help understanding the what’s-what and got it from a reader who sent in this nonpartisan explanation, which I’ll just quote at length (emphasis mine):

“The initiative included in the House Budget is called a Section 1332 waiver. These waivers, which must be approved by the federal government, allow states to change certain ACA insurance rules to reduce ACA insurance premiums. States have a lot of flexibility to make changes under a Section 1332 waiver, but the ACA includes fairly strong protections to prevent states from simply reducing access to lower premiums.

If a state can persuade the federal government that whatever changes it makes through Section 1332 will reduce ACA insurance premiums, the federal government may allow it to use the amount of ACA subsidies that would have otherwise gone to lower-income individuals to help pay the higher premiums to instead support the Section 1332 waiver changes. This works out because the ACA insurance subsidies rise and fall with ACA insurance premiums. So yes, lower-income individuals in the ACA Exchange would receive lower subsidies, but it would be due to their premiums going down along with the premiums of individuals not eligible for subsidies to begin with.

This is how Section 1332 waivers should work. States have only been allowed to apply since 2017, and only a handful have received approval. I think the general consensus is that a Section 1332 waiver can be a useful tool to reduce premiums, but policymakers need to be very careful when crafting one.”

So. If you can “innovate” your way to lower premiums for the folks with the lowest income, you can then spend some of the money that you would have used to subsidize their costs on folks making a bit more money. Got it. How will the Commonwealth innovate? I dunno! I think the changes Virginia plans to make under the Section 1332 waiver are still up in the air and would get hashed out after the budget passes, at least according to this piece in the Daily Press from last week. You can see a table of what some other states have done here to get a feel for the road ahead. Obviously I still have questions (and if any of this is glaringly wrong, please let me know) but this was super helpful. Thanks, reader!

Big bus news! Beginning today, GRTC will start removing the orange construction barrels along Broad Street! They’ll have the whole route cleaned up by this Sunday and will begin testing exercises—actual buses in the actual lanes—this coming Monday, April 23rd. Again, the feeling of “it’s really happening!” is intense!

Two good Richmond Public Schools-related items: First, tonight at 6:00 PM, Armstrong High School students will perform a docudrama about equity in education titled The Spirit of Armstrong. This event is free and open to the public. Second, the District has launched a new recognition program called RPS Shines. Do you know an RPS student, educator, or support staff member who “goes above and beyond while exemplifying the three core elements of the RPS family: Resilience. Pride. Success.”? Take ten minutes and nominate that person! What are you waiting for?

Right after the 2016 mayoral election, I felt pretty confident that Richmond’s growing interest in our local politicians—plus a new crop of fresh, young elected leaders—meant that we’d soon see a Richmond version of TMZ. That definitely hasn’t happened (for better or worse, I guess), and this piece by Jackie Kruszewski in the Richmond Times-Dispatch is about as close as we’ve gotten. Shocking revelation: The Mayor dates!

I don’t normally link to these tourism pieces because I don’t need to convince you to visit Richmond and that it’s a rad place to spend your time. But this one in the WaPo is pretty OK...despite committing the cardinal tourism article sin of reminding us that Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy within the first two paragraphs. Authors! Just resist the urge to do this!


  • Squirrels beat Bowie, 1-0, and wrap that series today at 10:35 AM. Afterwards, they’ll hit the road until next Friday.
  • Nats couldn’t pull off the sweep against the Met, losing 5-11.

This morning's longread

Why does soda come in liters and milk in gallons?


Sculley wanted a bigger vessel. He worked with the chemical company DuPont, which had come up with a type of plastic that was perfect for bigger beverage bottles. The result? A Pepsi bottle that was 10 times bigger than the classic 6.5-ounce Coke. And its name, the 2 liter, reflected the nation's flirtation with going metric. Metrication, as it’s called, was an effort to get the U.S. to abandon customary measurements like inches and pints and join the rest of the world in using the metric system.

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Good morning, RVA: Cigarette tax action, ICA opening, and school walkout

Good morning, RVA: Medicaid creeps forward, storm drain art, and eggs