DAYBREAK DAILY: O'Malley to present another fix to health exchange

ABC7 WEATHER: Partly cloudy with isolated rain and highs in the mid 50s.

‘GOOD MORNING WASHINGTON’: Among the reports – Maryland continues work on troubled health exchange; much more, beginning at 4:30 a.m. M-F.

O’MALLEYCARE: Of more fixes, per the Baltimore Sun, “Consumers stuck in limbo, unable to access the state's glitch-prone online health exchange, will be allowed to get coverage through the plans they want under an agreement that state officials worked out with insurance companies. Gov. Martin O'Malley plans to announce the option Tuesday, the day lawmakers scheduled briefings on the exchange's performance and on a different plan to give coverage through a state-backed health plan to thousands of uninsured who were thwarted by technical problems from enrolling in time to get coverage by Jan. 1.

“. . . All four carriers on the health exchange agreed to the plan, and officials plan to begin reaching out Tuesday to people they know are having problems on the website, Sharfstein said. Consumers must register for the plan by Jan. 21 by phone through the exchange call center. Consumers will be able to submit doctor and other bills dating back to Jan. 1 once they pay January and February premiums.”

LOST CAUSE?: Nevertheless. . ., per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “Gov. Terry McAuliffe wants the legislative panel empowered to authorize Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act to make a decision sooner rather than later. Just three days on the job, McAuliffe told lawmakers in an address to a joint session of the General Assembly on Monday night that he will seek a budget amendment requiring the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission to complete its work by the time the 2014 General Assembly adjourns.

“Less than a month ago, Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell had unveiled a proposed two-year, $95.9 billion budget that called for an amendment that would put a June 30, 2016, sunset on any expansion of the program. Twenty-five states have expanded or are in the process of expanding Medicaid, and “Virginia should join these states,” McAuliffe said to a standing ovation from Democrats.”

MEANWHILE: Perhaps another lost cause, per the Virginian-Pilot, “For years, gay rights has been one of the hot-button social issues that serve as fodder for partisan warfare in the General Assembly, with Democrats favoring gay-friendly measures and Republicans opposing them. But the partisan lines are starting to blur a bit.

"This year, several lawmakers have introduced legislation to prohibit discrimination in state employment based on sexual orientation, and one of them is a Republican: Del. Ron Villanueva of Virginia Beach. The 43-year-old delegate, who is beginning his third two-year term in the House, said Monday his decision to try to help protect Virginia's gay minority was rooted in his own minority status as a Filipino-American.”

WATER WORKS: Almost, per the Charleston Gazette, “West Virginia American Water on Monday began lifting the "do-not-use" water advisory issued to 300,000 of its customers on Thursday. Customers in downtown Charleston -- in areas bordered by the Elk River, the Kanawha River and the 35th St. Bridge -- were given the go-ahead on Monday afternoon to begin flushing their systems.

“By late Monday afternoon, Kanawha City and some areas across the Kanawha River from the neighborhood were added. South Charleston residents were also told they could flush their pipes early Monday evening. Customers in North Charleston, Big Chimney and people along Sissonville Drive were permitted to flush their pipes Monday night.”

NO PENCIL NEEDED: Too many of them, per the Washington Post, “Two local lawmakers are leading the charge to reduce the number of standardized tests that Virginia students are required to take and to move beyond the bubble-test era to next-generation assessments that reflect more advanced skills.

“Dels. Thomas A. “Tag” Greason (R-Loudoun) and Rob Krupicka (D-Alexandria) introduced bills that would cut the number of tests by as many as eight — from 34 to 26 during a student’s kindergarten-through-12th-grade career — and direct local school boards and the state Board of Education to develop alternative assessments.”

MONEY MATTERS: Under a threat, per the New York Times, “House and Senate negotiators reached accord on a trillion-dollar spending plan that will finance the government through September, reversing some cuts to military veterans’ pensions that were included in a broader budget agreement last month and defeating efforts to rein in President Obama’s health care law. The hefty bill, filed in the House on Monday night, neutralized almost all of the 134 policy provisions that House Republicans had hoped to include, with negotiators opting for cooperation over confrontation after the 16-day government shutdown in October.

"Measures to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases and reverse clean water regulations did not survive the final negotiations. Republicans also relented on their efforts to strip financing to carry out the Affordable Care Act.”

THE INVINCIBLES: What, me worry?, per The Hill, “Too few young people are signing up for ObamaCare to stop premiums from rising, new data released by the administration on Monday show. Only 24 percent of Obama-Care’s enrollees are young people, well below the 40 percent benchmark set by the administration for the critical 18- to 34-year-old age group. Older people, who are typically more expensive to cover, made up the single largest group of Obama-Care enrollees.

“Thirty-three percent of the 2.2 million who had selected a plan through the exchanges as of December were between the ages of 55 and 64, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department said Monday. To keep premiums affordable, experts say it is vital that the law attract about that many young and healthy “invincibles” unlikely to need critical care to balance out older and sicker uninsured people who enroll and will be more costly to the system.”

POLITICO PLAY: “Republican Ed Gillespie’s expected announcement this week that he will challenge Democratic Sen. Mark Warner promises to instantly transform a snoozer of a Senate race in Virginia into one of the more arresting contests of the midterms. The former Republican National Committee chairman has a Rolodex teeming with contacts from his decades in national GOP politics, which should make him competitive on the fundraising front. His experience and political savvy could help him avoid typical rookie mistakes.

“Nevertheless, Gillespie, 52, will enter the race as the heavy underdog. Aside from his time as a top D.C. lobbyist, he’ll have to fend off attacks from his right on issues from immigration to deficits to the Wall Street bailout — without damaging his prospects against a popular, deep-pocketed incumbent in the general election.”

CROWDED: Of a D.C. ballot, per City Paper, “The deadline for petition challenges came and went quietly, with none of the major mayoral candidates tried to knock each another off the ballot. Long shot candidate and debate crasher Christian Carter, meanwhile, now has two challenges to deal with.

"It’s a part of the process," says Carter, who claims that he turned in roughly 4,000 signatures. That would put him at double the minimum 2,000 signatures required to make April's primary ballot. Carter received challenges from Philip Elwood and Alonzo Edmondson, neither of whom LL could locate for comment.”

MULLING HIS OPTIONS: Amid uncertainty, per Gazette.Net, “Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett — one of the region’s highest-stature Democrats — is standing clear of his party’s gubernatorial primary, for now. In a race among Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and Del. Heather R. Mizeur (Dist. 20) of Takoma Park for this year’s Democratic nomination, Leggett said Friday that he hasn’t decided whom to support.

“The primary will be held June 24. The general election will be Nov. 4. Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) is finishing his second term, the maximum allowed in Maryland. Asked during a meeting with Gazette reporters and editors if he had an allegiance in the race, Leggett said: “I have none at this point. I’ll tell you why. I hope and I anticipate that I may endorse at some point in the future, but I’m not sure.”

SPORTS, BRIEFLY: Wizards beat Chicago 102-88.

TRENDING ON ABC7 FACEBOOK: “Seven Virginia families are currently fighting to remove obstacles they say they faced when they sent their diabetic children to public schools in Virginia. They hope that a bill -- which would set statewide standards for training and dictate that students can carry their supplies with them and test their blood sugar anywhere in school -- will soon become law.”

NEWSTALK: 10 a.m., NewsChannel 8.

--Skip Wood