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DAYBREAK DAILY: Medicaid expansion looms large as Va. lawmakers return to Richmond

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ABC7 WEATHER: Partly sunny with highs in the low 40s. http://wj.la/72e8x6

‘GOOD MORNING WASHINGTON’: Among the reports – Prince George’s County continues push for FBI headquarters; much more, beginning at 4:30 a.m. M-F.

MEDICAID EXPANSION: Or not, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “Carol Miller, who lost her full-time job in 2008, cannot qualify for Medicaid. As long as Carol Miller worked full time, she had full medical insurance. But in 2008, unable to keep her job with a major bank in Portsmouth because of her gastritis, hypertension, depression and other stress-related disorders, she lost her coverage.

“By the end of 2009, after spending more than $10,000 out of pocket on medical bills, Miller was broke. She eventually lost her home and moved back in with her mother in Portsmouth. Miller applied for Medicaid in 2010, 2011 and 2012, but she said she was told every time that she does not qualify. Miller is one of about 1 million Virginians under the age of 65 without health insurance. And she is one of an estimated 400,000 uninsured Virginians who could be eligible for coverage if the state expands its federal Medicaid program.

“The state legislature, which returns Monday for a special session, is deadlocked over a feature in the Senate budget that would expand coverage to include hundreds of thousands of uninsured Virginians.” http://bit.ly/NJ69yc

MEANWHILE: On the edges, per the Associated Press, “Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe plans to propose a 2 percent raise for state employees when lawmakers return to Richmond on Monday for a special session in which they will try to pass a roughly $96 billion two-year budget. McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy said Sunday the raise would apply to virtually all full-time state employees and would go into effect in March 2015. Coy declined to say where the roughly $200 million for the raises would come from.

“The GOP-controlled House's proposed budget contains a 1 percent bonus for state employees in 2015 and then a 1 percent raise in 2016, with some positions targeted for a greater salary increase. In addition to debating proposed pay raises, lawmakers are set to reopen debates over Medicaid expansion.” http://wj.la/1gsHSt3

BOOKS: So quaint, per the Baltimore Sun, “Holding a whiteboard, the University of Maryland, College Park students scrawled their complaints and posed for a picture. "My name is Justin and I spent $114 on ONE textbook," a student wrote. "My name is Jeff and I spent $736 on textbooks," wrote another.

“The images, posted online by the Student Government Association in recent months, are designed to highlight the rapid rise in the price of college textbooks over the past decade. This semester, the University System of Maryland is exploring ways to bring that cost to zero with "open-source" electronic textbooks — the latest experiment in changing the way students in Maryland and across the nation are taught.” http://bit.ly/1g7z5LV  

UKRAINE: The latest, per the Washington Post, “NATO’s top military commander warned Sunday that Russia could seek to expand its territorial conquest to new areas, just a day after Russian forces seized some of the final Ukrainian military installations in the contested Crimean Peninsula. U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Europe, said Russia had assembled a large force on Ukraine’s eastern border that could pose a threat to Moldova’s separatist Transnistria region.

“Top NATO commander says Moldovan region is vulnerable as Russia masses forces on Ukraine's eastern border. The [Russian] force that is at the Ukrainian border now to the east is very, very sizeable and very, very ready,” Breedlove said at an event sponsored by the German Marshall Fund. Ukraine’s east is also considered under threat; Ukrainian officials have been warning for weeks that Russia is trying to provoke a conflict there, a charge Russia denies.

“But Breedlove said Russian ambitions extend beyond Ukraine.” http://wapo.st/1dfrJ9z

MEANWHILE: Group of TBD, per the New York Times, “THE HAGUE — As Russia consolidated its hold on Crimea, raising its flag over seized military bases and detaining ousted Ukrainian commanders on Sunday, President Obama and his international allies prepared to meet here in an effort to develop a strong, united response despite their diverging interests in dealing with the Kremlin.

“After Russia’s invasion of Crimea and the lightning annexation of the peninsula by President Vladimir V. Putin last week, Mr. Obama’s decision to convene the leaders of several European countries, along with Canada and Japan, brought the nations — once again the Group of 7, without Russia — together for the first time since the crisis in Ukraine upended the stability and security of Europe.” http://nyti.ms/1ghoG0q

U.S. VETS: Of adapting, per the Virginian-Pilot, “Two combat tours in Iraq and 20 years in the Marines made Ray Garcia a different kind of college student. He was 39 years old when he set foot in college for the first time. He didn't want to party; he got angry when students were disrespectful in class or when instructors didn't respect veterans.

“And then there was the issue of which seat he might get: He preferred one by the door, though any desk that allowed him to defend against attack would do. Even now, after the extreme sense of heightened alert has faded, that need remains. Five years after the Post-9/11 GI Bill began, giving recent veterans and service members greater benefits for higher education, more than a million have tapped into the program. There is no precise data about how well veterans fare. But studies suggest that large numbers are not making it to graduation.” http://bit.ly/1mouYyz

MUDSLIDE: Sheer terror, per the Seattle Times, “Hopes dimmed Sunday for finding survivors in the nearly one square mile of muck and debris left by a mudslide that killed at least eight people and demolished dozens of houses. Officials confirmed eight dead during a community meeting Sunday night in Darrington. Just a few hours earlier, the death toll had stood at four.

"Tod Gates, an incident commander, said that as he and other rescuers flew in a helicopter to the Darrington meeting, they spotted the four additional bodies. The dead were not identified Sunday night. More than a dozen remained missing, but it was unclear just how many. “We didn’t see or hear any signs of life out there today,” said Travis Hots, chief of Snohomish County Fire Districts 21 and 22, during a Sunday afternoon news conference.” http://bit.ly/1mpDoFY

OBAMACARE: Yet another hurdle, per The Hill, “President Obama’s signature healthcare law is headed back to the Supreme Court in a high-stakes case that could redefine the limits of religious freedom in the United States. The high court on Tuesday will hear challenges to ObamaCare’s contentious “birth control mandate,” which requires companies to offer contraceptive services to workers as part of their insurance coverage.

“If successful, the challenge could peel away a significant portion of the mandate, potentially affecting preventive health coverage for millions of women and striking a major blow to the law itself. But the court’s ruling could also have far-reaching implications for religious liberty by allowing companies to claim First Amendment rights that the government says are reserved for individuals.” http://bit.ly/1nSNiRW

POLITICO PLAY: “Taxpayers in 14 states will bankroll nearly $1 billion this year in tuition for private schools, including hundreds of religious schools that teach Earth is less than 10,000 years old, Adam and Eve strolled the garden with dinosaurs, and much of modern biology, geology and cosmology is a web of lies.

“Now a major push to expand these voucher programs is under way from Alaska to New York, a development that seems certain to sharply increase the investment.” http://politi.co/1jusw53

D.C. MAYORAL RACE: In a word, tight, per City Paper, “. . . Ward 4 D.C. Councilmember Muriel Bowser is in a dead heat with Mayor Vince Gray in the mayoral race two weeks before the primary, a new poll commissioned by Washington City Paper and WAMU's Kojo Nnamdi Show reveals. Bowser and Gray both received 27 percent of the vote in the poll of 860 likely Democratic primary voters.” http://bit.ly/OHtj8W

SPORTS, BRIEFLY: Wizards lose105-102 against Denver.

TRENDING ON ABC7 FACEBOOK: “ABC7’s Chad Merrill analyzes the winter that just wouldn’t quit. The biggest highlight was above average snowfall. Not just in Washington but all across the East. Almost every major Interstate 95 city had above-average snowfall through mid-March. As of the end of February, soil moisture was 20 to 40% above average in the Washington area.” http://wj.la/1nRWEh2

NEWSTALK: Among today’s topics (10 a.m., NewsChannel 8) -- The race for mayor in the District enters its final week. Where do things stand? We'll ask Dorothy Brizill, executive director of DC Watch.

--Skip Wood

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