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DAYBREAK DAILY: McAuliffe ramps up Medicaid pitch as debate rages

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ABC7 WEATHER: Partly cloudy with highs near 70. http://wj.la/72e8x6

‘GOOD MORNING WASHINGTON’: Among the reports – Muriel Bowser becomes next D.C. mayor, ousting incumbent Vince Gray; Redskins sign former Philadelphia wide-out DeSean Jackson; much more, beginning at 4:30 a.m. M-F.

MEDICAID EXPANSION: Of a monetary pitch, per the Virginian-Pilot, “Money, not politics, should drive Virginia’s decision about Medicaid expansion, Gov. Terry McAuliffe told a Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce gathering Tuesday. Under the Affordable Care Act, he said, Virginians will pay $26 billion in federal taxes over the next 8 years. All but $6 billion will be left on the table if state leaders choose not to widen eligibility for the government health insurance program.

“My argument is this is our money,” McAuliffe said. “As a business man, I want my money back.” The governor also appealed to individual business interests, telling executives that they could expect their health insurance premiums to rise if low-income, uninsured people remained uncovered and continued to seek expensive care from hospital emergency departments.” http://bit.ly/1hgOHIv

MEANWHILE: In Richmond, per the Associated Press, “Advocates and opponents of expanding Medicaid in Virginia revisited familiar arguments Tuesday at a lengthy public hearing over Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s proposed budget. The governor wants a roughly $96 billion, two-year budget that includes expanding Medicaid eligibility, which most Republican lawmakers oppose. The impasse could lead to a state government shutdown if the budget is not passed by July 1.

“More than 100 people signed up to speak at Tuesday’s Virginia Senate Finance Committee hearing on the governor’s proposed budget. Politically active nonprofits, including the liberal MoveOn.org and the tea party group Americans for Prosperity, had urged their supporters to attend. Business owners, health officials and other advocates of expanding Medicaid told the finance committee of the Democrat-controlled Virginia Senate that expansion would help the commonwealth’s poor, its hospitals, and its overall economy. Expanding Medicaid is a key part of the Affordable Care Act, and the federal government has promised to cover most of the costs for state’s that agree to expansion. Advocates for Medicaid expansion say Virginia can’t afford to pass up what amounts to roughly $5 million a day in federal funds.” http://bit.ly/1pIRd1a

BOWSER WINS: Vince Gray becomes lame duck, per City Paper, “Declaring victory in the race for the Democratic mayoral nomination, Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser sought to unite the fractious Democratic field ahead of November's general election. "A lot of our friends were with other candidates," Bowser said in her victory speech. "And it's my job to let them know that I'll be their mayor, too."

“The final tallies weren't quite done yet, but with 127 of 143 precincts reporting, Bowser was ahead Mayor Vince Gray 44.1 percent to 32.3 percent. She asked her supporters to cheer for Gray and other rivals Tommy Wells, Jack Evans, Vincent Orange, Andy Shallal, and Reta Lewis. (She inexplicably left Carlos Allen out.) Facing a challenge from independent David Catania, her colleague on the D.C. Council, Bowser is hoping to win the endorsements of her primary opponents. She held her victory party at Imagine Southeast Public Charter School in Congress Heights, across the city from the ward she represents.” http://bit.ly/1fMuc7a 

MEANWHILE: Of a light turnout, per the Washington Post, “. . . At polling places citywide, there were signs of spotty — and, in some places, abysmal — turnout. Planners estimate the city has more than half a million residents 18 or older, and about 370,000 of them were eligible to vote in Tuesday’s primary, according to the District’s Board of Elections. But only a faction of them actually cast ballots.

“Although the numbers were small, they were enough to lift challenger Muriel Bowser to victory over Mayor Vincent C. Gray, who conceded the race hours into a drawn-out ballot tally. Delays in the count, including problems operating some electronic voting machines, made it impossible to get a complete picture of the turnout as of early Wednesday morning.” http://wapo.st/1jXunDW

MARYLAND SHIFTS COURSE: For its health, per the Baltimore Sun, “The board overseeing Maryland's health exchange voted unanimously Tuesday evening to scrap its dysfunctional website and adopt software developed by Deloitte Consulting and used by the more successful health exchange in Connecticut.

“The software is free for Maryland to use but Health Secretary Joshua M. Sharfstein will negotiate an emergency $40 million to $50 million contract with the software company to develop the site. Isabel FitzGerald, secretary of the state's Department of Information Technology, who stepped in to help fix the exchange, will oversee the project. The move comes a day after open enrollment under the federal Affordable Care Act ended Monday, when consumers still were having trouble with the glitch-prone website. Maryland is the first state with a troubled website to switch to another system.” http://bsun.md/1h0R5Jd

MIDDLE EAST: Hope for peace wanes, per the New York Times, “The Middle East peace talks verged on a breakdown Tuesday night, after President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority defied the United States and Israel by taking concrete steps to join 15 international agencies — a move to gain the benefits of statehood outside the negotiations process.

“Mr. Abbas’s actions, which appeared to catch American and Israeli officials by surprise, prompted Secretary of State John Kerry to cancel a planned return to the region on Wednesday, in which he had expected to complete an agreement extending negotiations through 2015.” http://nyti.ms/1s2HWmZ

STANDOFF: Call it a mini-invasion, per the Los Angeles Times, “Two heavily armed, camouflaged Mexican soldiers crossed 50 yards inside Arizona in January and drew their guns against U.S. Border Patrol agents who confronted them in a tense standoff, according to documents obtained by The Times/Tribune Washington Bureau. U.S. officials said it was one of nearly two dozen border incursions by Mexican soldiers into southern Arizona in the last four years.

“The Jan. 26 confrontation, described in a Border Patrol foreign military incursion report and confirmed in a separate letter from U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske, ended when the Mexican soldiers retreated back over the border after U.S. agents — who also drew their weapons — summoned assistance. The soldiers, who misidentified themselves to border agents, claimed to be pursuing drug smugglers, documents show.” http://lat.ms/1s6y4bS

OBAMACARE: POTUS now liking what he sees, per The Hill, “The Obama administration on Tuesday celebrated its announcement that 7.1 million people had enrolled in health insurance through ObamaCare. The surprising final number exceeded an important benchmark and represented a significant achievement for the administration after a troubled rollout of the law handed midterm election-year momentum to Republicans.

“An ebullient President Obama announced the new figure in the Rose Garden, where he also took a confrontational tone with congressional Republican leaders who this week said they still wanted to repeal the law. “I don’t get it,” Obama said. “Why are folks working so hard for people not to have health insurance? Why are they so mad about folks having health insurance?" http://bit.ly/1hgMddk

POLITICO PLAY: “There was a word White House officials had for Monday, the final day of Obamacare enrollment: “S—t-tastic.” “S—t,” because they couldn’t believe that the website had crashed again, and they couldn’t get it back for hours. “-Tastic” because this time, the problems were actually because of traffic so high that it caught even the most optimistic people in the White House by surprise.” http://politi.co/1op68AG

HIGHER MINIMUM: Wage, that is, per Gazette.Net, “Maryland Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Thomas McLain “Mac” Middleton is not a betting man. But if he were, he said, he would bet on the state passing a higher minimum wage this session.

“Maryland has reached its final week of the 90-day legislative session and a House bill to raise the wage sits in Middleton’s committee. “I’m hoping we can have this issue resolved in the next couple of days,” he said. “We are working with the House so that they will concur. It can go very fast under that scenario.” http://bit.ly/1lBuVza

COPYCAT: Foiled, per the Frederick News-Post, “Carroll County authorities charged a Mount Airy man Tuesday with threatening to turn South Carroll High School “into Columbine,” prompting a five-hour lockdown of the school.

“Timothy Edgar Baker, 20, of the 2600 block of Walston Road, is being held without bail at the Carroll County Detention Center, according to the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office. Baker faces charges of making a false statement regarding a destructive device, threats of arson, telephone misuse and possession of marijuana, the sheriff’s office said in a news release.” http://bit.ly/1jXxFal

HUH?: Of a missive, per ARLnow, “Independent Arlington County Board candidate Stephen W.C. Holbrook doesn’t like a plan to use public land for affordable housing, and made his opinions known in a strongly-worded email to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York.

“. . .“GOD’S house is a place to talk to your GOD and not a place to gather people to form a plan to lay out how you will steal from other people,” Holbrook wrote. “I am a Catholic and that meeting in that church was the first time I ever went into a church and came out feeling dirty and that there was evil in that church. I thought that God was going to send down a lightning bolt unto those church leaders and their people and I didn’t want to be around them. . .It took me two days and several baths to get the smell of greed and sin off of me but the other people there will go to hell for what they do and their church leaders are to blame.” http://bit.ly/1gniXRO

CHERRY BLOSSOM UPDATE: Just the facts, per DCist, “Need a break from election madness? How about an update on the cherry blossom trees! March 31 saw the extension of florets, according to the National Park Service, the latest date since 2005. On average, this means peak bloom is 12 to 17 days away. The cherry blossoms were predicted to reach this most beautiful, fleeting stage between April 8 and April 12. In 2005, again when the extension happened on March 31, peak bloom occurred on April 9.” http://bit.ly/1lBvIQG

TRENDING ON ABC7 FACEBOOK: With photo, “Condos and apartments are going up all across the District, and with so many units hitting the market, developers are going to new lengths to attract prospective tenants. One D.C. apartment complex is luring in prospective tenants with this adorable 'communal mascot!' http://wj.la/1gKYiMu

NEWSTALK: Among today’s topics (10 a.m., NewsChannel 8) -- Analysis of the D.C mayor and council primary with ABC7 D.C. bureau chief Sam Ford, Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney, D.C. Watch executive director Dorothy Brizill and political strategist Doug Sloan.

--Skip Wood

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