DAYBREAK DAILY: U.Va., VCU health systems urge Medicaid expansion

ABC7 WEATHER: Partly sunny with highs in the mid 30s. { }

‘GOOD MORNING WASHINGTON’: Among the reports – Shooting in Gaithersburg involves police officer; much more, beginning at 4:30 a.m. M-F.

EXPAND MEDICAID: Sooner rather than later, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “The Virginia Commonwealth University and University of Virginia health systems say their ability to serve low-income patients and educate future doctors could be in jeopardy if the state fails to expand its Medicaid program to serve 250,000 uninsured Virginians who otherwise may end up in their emergency rooms. Officials for the academic medical centers estimated Wednesday that the state would save more than $1 billion over nine years if Virginia expands Medicaid this year and warned that they face more than $400 million in reduced federal subsidies for indigent care from mid-2016 to mid-2022.

“The reductions in all of this create a critical shortfall, and filling the shortfall is of paramount importance if our academic health centers are going to remain true to our mission,” said Dr. Sheldon M. Retchin, chief executive officer of VCU Health System and senior vice present for health sciences, in a presentation to the House Appropriations Committee. That mission is health care and medical education, Retchin said. “The two are inextricably linked. When the health system catches a cold, the medical school gets pneumonia.”

BREAK OUT THE SKATES: Not the boats, per the Baltimore Sun, “Jeff Lill is a popular man lately, as captain of the J.C. Widener, one of the state's few ice breakers. After leaving its Annapolis harbor at 8:30 Wednesday morning, the Widener spent the day criss-crossing the waters off Anne Arundel County — beckoned for help from the creeks of the Severn River to government research buoys in the Chesapeake Bay. It cleared paths for a sea trial from an Annapolis marina, a waterman in search of rockfish on the South River, and a county fireboat in the West River's Parrish Creek.

"It would never have gotten out," Lill said of the fireboat, which luckily didn't have any emergencies to tend to. "They had ice 5 inches thick." As this month's second blast of cold lingers, ice has collected on local bays, rivers and canals as it hasn't since perhaps the 1990s, said those whose livelihoods depend on the waterways. It is crimping seafood harvests, jacking up energy bills for marinas and prompting warnings for daredevils in ice skates.”

HERRING EXPLAINS: It’s not about him, per the Virginian-Pilot, “It's been a whirlwind for Attorney General Mark Herring since he declared last week that he'll seek to overturn Virginia's same-sex marriage ban instead of defending it, placing himself and Virginia in a gay rights maelstrom. Critics have called for him to be fired; supporters have labeled him an equal rights hero.

“But as Herring reflected on those developments Wednesday, on the eve of a postponed hearing in Norfolk's U.S. District Court on a lawsuit challenging the marriage ban, he said he's confident his stance puts Virginia on right side of the law long-term. Switching his office's posture on the case, Herring said, is "not about my personal view in support of marriage equality. . .That's not my role as attorney general," he said in an interview with The Virginian-Pilot from his Richmond office. "But, rather, the decision was based on the law and based on the obligations of the office."

SURE LOSER?: Of long odds, per the Washington Post, “Larry Hogan, the newest entrant in the Republican primary for Maryland governor, kicked off his campaign Wednesday with a boisterous rally at an Annapolis area crab house and the announcement of a running mate. Hogan tapped Boyd Rutherford, a fellow Cabinet secretary under then-Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), as his candidate for lieutenant governor. Together, they promised to take state government in a new direction, ending seven years of tax increases and policies they characterized as hostile to businesses.

“. . . Like others in the Republican field, some of whom have been running since the summer, Hogan faces a steep climb in a state where Democrats hold a more than 2-to-1 advantage in party registration. But Hogan, the leader of the watchdog group Change Maryland, contends that voters are eager to try something different as the tenure of Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) draws to a close.”

RUSSIA: We’re not talking Olympics, per the New York Times, “The United States informed its NATO allies this month that Russia had tested a new ground-launched cruise missile, raising concerns about Moscow’s compliance with a landmark arms control accord. American officials believe Russia began conducting flight tests of the missile as early as 2008. Such tests are prohibited by the treaty banning medium-range missiles that was signed in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the Soviet leader at the time, and that has long been viewed as one of the bedrock accords that brought an end to the Cold War.

“Beginning in May, Rose Gottemoeller, the State Department’s senior arms control official, has repeatedly raised the missile tests with Russian officials, who have responded that they investigated the matter and consider the case to be closed. But Obama administration officials are not yet ready to formally declare the tests of the missile, which has not been deployed, to be a violation of the 1987 treaty. With President Obama pledging to seek deeper cuts in nuclear arms, the State Department has been trying to find a way to resolve the compliance issue, preserve the treaty and keep the door open to future arms control accords.”

GOP REFORM: Not so fast, per The Hill, “Top House Republicans will face growing skepticism from reform-minded conservatives when they pitch their principles for an immigration overhaul Thursday at the party’s annual retreat. In interviews over the last several days, conservatives said that while they expect the principles to be broadly acceptable, they are less inclined to support a push by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and others to advance specific legislative proposals heading into the midterm election campaign.

“. . . The principles will include support for giving probationary legal status to many illegal immigrants, Ryan confirmed in an interview Wednesday on MSNBC. That would be distinct from a so-called “special path to citizenship” that Republicans have long opposed. Republican leaders have acknowledged that the reception of the rank and file at the retreat on Maryland’s Eastern Shore will be critical to the decision of whether to move forward.”

POLITICO PLAY: “With Democrats’ grasp on the Senate increasingly tenuous — and the House all but beyond reach — some top party donors and strategists are moving to do something in the midterm election as painful as it is coldblooded: Admit the House can’t be won and go all in to save the Senate.

“Their calculation is uncomplicated. With only so much money to go around in an election year that is tilting the GOP’s way, Democrats need to concentrate resources on preserving the chamber they have now. Losing the Senate, they know, could doom whatever hopes Barack Obama has of salvaging the final years of his presidency.”

TOUGH ROAD: No matter, per City Paper, “With temperatures in the 20's, few people are opening their doors to Ward 6 D.C. Council candidate Darrel Thompson as he canvasses on a recent Saturday. Worse, one of those who does, an elderly woman, says she won’t vote for anyone in the race. But Thompson, toe warmers stuffed in his socks, thinks it’s worth another shot. He’d dealt with cranky lawmakers on behalf of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for four years as his deputy chief of staff. Surely he can win one more vote.”

CONFIDENT: To a point, per Gazette.Net, “While acknowledging the limitations in preventing such a scenario, some Prince George’s County mall and police officials say they are confident in their current evacuation and active shooter plans in the wake of a shooting at a Columbia mall that left three dead, including the shooter. “You can do the best you can based on your plan,” said Sgt. Amir Reeves, Beltway Plaza Mall security shift supervisor. “No plan is going to be perfect.”

“Those plans are called active shooter drills, and they are common evacuation or response plans to scenarios in which a person is loose in a large building or area while wielding a live weapon, said Lt. William Alexander, a county police spokesman. These plans are common at large stores, developments or malls like the Beltway Plaza Mall in Greenbelt and the National Harbor development in Oxon Hill. These plans usually incorporate cooperation between police and security forces working together to subdue an active threat as quickly as possible while removing civilians from the threat area, Alexander said.”

SPORTS, BRIEFLY: Wizards lose 110-103 against L.A. Clippers.

TRENDING ON ABC7 FACEBOOK: “Virginia recorded 725 convictions in the span of six months for texting while driving. The recent law makes the distracted-driving practice a primary offense. A conviction means a fine of $125 for the first offense, and following offenses call for a $250 fine.”

NEWSTALK: Among today’s guests (10 a.m., NewsChannel 8) is Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia, who will be asked about the State of the Union address, income inequality, immigration and his decision to retire.

--Skip Wood