DAYBREAK DAILY: McAuliffe makes official pitch to expand Medicaid

ABC7 WEATHER: Partly sunny with highs in the low 50s. { }

‘GOOD MORNING WASHINGTON’: Among the reports – More on the apparent murder-suicide in Frederick County involving infant, parents; WMATA board meeting likely to address Red Line problems; much more, beginning at 4:30 a.m. M-F.

TERRY TIME: McAuliffe makes first official speech, per the Daily Press, “Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe may be facing GOP opposition to his high-priority push to expand Medicaid, but on Wednesday he asked for help from what has been a traditionally Republican-leaning group – the state's business community. McAuliffe, a Democrat, said expanding Medicaid was vital for the state's economy, as he invoked the Virginia Chamber of Commerce's previously expressed support of the idea with his call for businesses' help to convince the Republican-dominated House of Delegates to go along.

"We cannot have the best workforce when one-eighth of our people can only access health care through emergency rooms," he told the 600 plus people at the chamber's fourth annual Economic Summit at the Williamsburg Lodge. "If Medicaid is not the business community's No. 1 priority in your conversations with the General Assembly, it is not going to happen," he said. "To the CEOs here, the effort will not pass if you do not take up the effort yourself."

“Medicaid is the joint federal-state program that provides health insurance for the poor and disabled. Virginia's Medicaid system and its FAMIS system provide insurance to children from households earning up to twice the federal poverty level, which is $31,020 for a mother with one child. But only a small number of adults – parents or people with disabilities earning well under $10,000 a year – are eligible. As many as 400,000 Virginians could gain coverage through a Medicaid expansion, nearly half the total of Virginia's uninsured.”

WRESTLING IN MARYLAND: Of healthcare, per the Baltimore Sun, “CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield said Wednesday that it would offer more than 55,500 customers the chance to extend their healthcare plans for another year, even though the policies don't comply with the federal Affordable Care Act. Maryland's insurance commissioner had told insurers a day earlier that such a move would be legal, and last week a beleaguered President Barack Obama asked states and insurers to consider the extensions. The president had promised Americans that if they liked their plans, they could keep them.

“The issue came to a political head as consumers expressed frustration that they were losing their coverage while the federal and state exchanges were not functional, thwarting efforts to shop for new plans. Republicans in Washington, as well as a Democratic candidate vying for governor in Maryland, used the policy terminations as political ammunition. About 73,000 Marylanders had received nonrenewal notices. CareFirst, the largest insurer in Maryland, had sent the most notices.”

CREIGH DEEDS: Just the facts, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “Virginia has launched an investigation of why state Sen. Creigh Deeds’ son was released from an emergency custody order 13 hours before he stabbed his father multiple times at their Bath County home Tuesday morning and then shot himself fatally.

“The behavioral health division of the Office of the Inspector General opened an investigation Wednesday. In another development, Gov. Bob McDonnell directed Secretary of Health and Human Resources William A. Hazel Jr. to conduct “a full internal review of the events leading up to Tuesday’s tragic situation,” said McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin.”

MEANWHILE: Some background, per the Roanoke Times, “. . . In 2008, one year after the mass shootings at Virginia Tech, the General Assembly passed legislation to improve standards and increase accountability in community-based mental health services. Lawmakers also included $41.7?million in the state's two-year budget that year to help implement the changes. But, "as we got into the recession, that started to go away," said Del. Bob Brink, D-Arlington, a member of the budget-writing House Appropriations Committee.

“As the committee wrapped up its two-day policy retreat in Roanoke on Wednesday, some members said they need more facts to determine if the Deeds case should lead to further reforms. "I think we really need a lot more details on that situation," said House Majority Leader Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, a senior member of the budget-writing panel.”

INVESTIGATING D.C.: Patience is preached, per the Washington Post, “The District’s top prosecutor said Wednesday that numerous “challenges and obstacles” have kept him from closing out a long-running investigation into political corruption in the city, including Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s 2010 campaign. U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. said pointedly that some of those calling on him to finish his probe are not cooperating with it.

“Some of the same people who are saying ‘Hurry up, hurry up’ may also be involved in not coming forward with the information we need,” he said. Machen’s comments, among the most extensive he has made on the nearly three-year-old investigation, came during an evening interview at a Capitol Hill community center with WRC (Channel 4) reporter Tom Sherwood.”

AFGHANISTAN: Maintaining a U.S. presence, per the New York Times, “Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Wednesday that the United States and Afghanistan had finalized the wording of a bilateral security agreement that would allow for a lasting American troop presence through 2024 and set the stage for billions of dollars of international assistance to keep flowing to the government in Kabul.

“The deal, which will now be presented for approval by an Afghan grand council of elders starting on Thursday, came after days of brinkmanship by Afghan officials and two direct calls from Mr. Kerry to President Hamid Karzai, including one on Wednesday before the announcement.”

MEANWHILE: Turning to Pakistan, per the Los Angeles Times, “A suspected U.S. drone attack early Thursday on a religious seminary believed to be linked to the ruthless Haqqani insurgent network killed at least six people and wounded eight, according to police and witnesses.

“Residents of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province said the drone fired four missiles at the hardline Taleem-ul-Quran seminary in the garrison town of Thall at around 7 a.m., destroying two of the institutions' mud-built walls. The seminary is run by Qari Noor Ullah, a religious leader affiliated with the Haqqani group, and is located near a major Pakistan army garrison.”

OBAMACARE: Of a key meeting, per The Hill, “President Obama met with state insurance commissioners at the White House on Wednesday in an attempt to quell concerns over his plan to allow insurers to continue offering policies that do not meet ObamaCare's requirements. The insurance commissioners, tasked with setting minimum insurance standards within each state, have complained about the president's executive order, arguing it injected chaos into their insurance markets.

“National Association of Insurance Commissioners president Jim Donelon said that in the meeting, Obama "acknowledged the complexity of the issues that we're dealing with and the change he suggested last week with the issuance of his executive order." The commissioners, meanwhile, warned Obama that different rules for different policies could result in higher premiums for consumers.”

POLITICO PLAY: “President Barack Obama is suffering the worst season of his presidency because people are mad that critical parts of the Affordable Care Act are not working the way they are supposed to work. The larger longer-term threat to his signature legislative achievement—and to his presidency generally—is different. It is the growing backlash over Obamacare working precisely the way it is supposed to work.

“The broken website, while an excruciating embarrassment, is on the path to repair. If Amazon and the airlines can manage millions of transactions a day over the web with ease, say experts, the federal government’s class of slow students surely will solve the problem in due course.”

TALL BUILDINGS: Maybe, per City Paper, “The D.C. government formally submitted its recommendations for changes to the Height Act to Congress today, standing firm on its earlier stance that the city should be given a degree of control over its building heights. The move comes a day after the National Capital Planning Commission rejected any many changes to the 1910 law, opting instead to retain full federal control over caps on the height to which D.C. buildings can rise.

“The D.C. recommendations, prepared by the Office of Planning, would alter the formula for height limits in the historic L'Enfant City, setting the maximum height at 1.25 times the width of the adjacent street. More significantly, the proposal would free the city from the Height Act entirely outside of the L'Enfant City, allowing the D.C. government to propose height increases that would need to be approved by the NCPC and Congress.”

TURN THEM OFF: Some do but many don’t, per the Frederick News-Post, “Maryland drivers seem to be catching on that police are enforcing the new cellphone ban, officials say, but the learning curve might be a bit slow. “We still see motorists daily holding their phone to their ear while they’re driving,” said Christine Delise, of AAA Mid-Atlantic. “We believe, in time, compliance will be much higher.”

“Lt. Todd May, the state police’s Frederick Barrack commander, said distracted driving and cellphone use while driving “are still major concerns” for safety. Data from the Maryland Highway Safety Office from the past five years, he wrote in an email, shows that distracted driving is a contributing factor in more than 60 percent of reported crashes in Frederick County each year.”

EASTERN SHORE GULLS: Caught in a rising tide, per the Virginian-Pilot, “Rising sea level along Virginia's Eastern Shore has drowned what historically was a major nesting site for one of the region's most iconic birds, the laughing gull.

“The number of breeding pairs dropped from 25,000 a decade ago to fewer than 4,400 this year, according to data released this week. The numbers came from aerial surveys conducted every 10 years by the Center for Conservation Biology, a joint research unit of the College of William & Mary and Virginia Commonwealth University.”

SECURING SCHOOLS: New measures, per Gazette.Net, “Hoping to further bolster school safety and safeguard against potential tragedies such as the Newtown, Conn., shooting, Prince George’s County school officials are adding security enhancements such as ID scanner systems and high fencing.

“Schools CEO Kevin Maxwell said a system that scanned visitors’ licenses and checked names against sex offender registries and other lists was in use when he was superintendent of Anne Arundel County Public Schools. Produced by Houston-based Raptor Technologies, the system requires visitors to slide their photo identification through a digital reader, which will flag individuals listed on state sex offender registry lists and also keeps a log of all visitors.”

JUMBOTRONS: Will they or won’t they?, per ARLnow, “The Arlington County Board will consider next month whether to allow large media screens, like the WJLA ticker in Rosslyn, in other parts of the county.

“The board voted unanimously to advertise for a public hearing before the Planning Commission Dec. 2 and the full board Dec. 14. The proposal would allow large media screens — colloquially known as “jumbotrons” – to be approved through the use permit or site plan process on buildings in mixed-use neighborhoods and in some parks. Deborah Albert, an Arlington County planner, said the proposed ordinance, if passed, would prevent the screens to be used for commercial purposes.”

WINTER SHELTERS: Not exactly open to all, per DCist, “When the temperature in D.C. drops below freezing, all adults in the district have a right to shelter. A course of action for providing it— mostly through homeless shelters, but sometimes with District-funded hotel rooms— is laid out in the Winter Plan, which is written by the Department of Human Services and approved by the Interagency Council on Homelessness by September 1 of every year.

Last Wednesday, the ICH approved an addendum to the Winter Plan that, for the first time in the document’s history, addresses unaccompanied youth. Included is $500,000 from the mayor’s office to establish six new crisis beds for minors (there are currently five) as well as a detailed outline of the procedure for screening kids for abuse or neglect and either returning them to their families or getting them into child protective services. Not included in the Winter Plan, however, is language guaranteeing minors a right to shelter. While the city says that all its bases are covered, homeless advocates disagree.”

SPORTS, BRIEFLY: Wizards beat Cleveland 98-91; Caps lose 4-0 against Pittsburgh.

TRENDING ON ABC7 FACEBOOK: “Two adults and one infant have been found dead in a home near New Market, Md., in an apparent murder-suicide, according to the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office. A sheriff’s spokesperson tells ABC7 News that a 5-year-old reported the incident to a neighbor. When police responded, they found three dead in the home.”

NEWSTALK: Among today’s guests (10 a.m., NewsChannel 8) is D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, who will be asked about calls for a higher minimum wage, the city’s building height limit, the marijuana debate and the 2014 campaign.

--Skip Wood