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400,000 more Virginians could soon get health insurance

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Virginia is very close to expanding Medicaid; a Russian journalist fakes his own death.

Virginia is on the verge of expanding Medicaid

Gov. Ralph Northam
Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • Virginia is poised to become the 33rd state (plus the District of Columbia) to expand Medicaid, after a key vote in its state Senate on Wednesday. [The Hill / Nathaniel Weixel]
  • In the vote today, four Republicans senators cast their ballots with all Senate Democrats in approving Medicaid expansion, something Republican legislators have long thwarted. The House of Delegates has already voted in favor a version of expansion, but still has to vote on the final bill. [Vox / Matthew Yglesias]
  • If the final bill clears both chambers, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam has vowed to sign it. The bill would add up to 400,000 patients to the program. [Politico / Rachana Pradhan]
  • The measure had hit roadblocks in the Senate before, but that has eased in the wake of elections last year that nearly flipped the House of Delegates for Democrats. The measure also passed the House much more easily this time around. [NYT / Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns]
  • The budget that contains Medicaid expansion does include some concessions to Republicans, including attaching work requirements to the program. [The Daily Beast / Gideon Resnick]
  • Many Virginians who would qualify for the program already work but still cannot afford the cost of insurance. [Washington Post / Laura Vozzella]
  • Virginia’s Medicaid program has already had success addressing the state’s opioid crisis, by making maintenance medications like methadone and buprenorphine more available and treating the epidemic like a public health crisis. More on that from Vox’s German Lopez. [Vox / German Lopez]
  • Besides Virginia, two other states could expand the program later this year: Utah and Idaho. Medicaid expansion is on the ballot in Utah, and advocates are gathering enough signatures to make it a ballot initiative in Idaho as well. [Axios / Sam Baker]

Dead man walking

  • There’s a wild story out of Russia involving a journalist who faked his own death to try to catch people who had allegedly ordered an assassination plot against him. [BBC]
  • Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, a noted critic of President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin, was first reported to have been shot dead in Ukraine yesterday. (Murdered journalists aren’t quite a rarity in Putin’s Russia.) [NYT / Neil MacFarquhar]
  • Then, in a twist, Babchenko appeared at a press conference that was supposed to be Ukrainian police announcing updates on his murder investigation ... looking extremely alive. [CNN / Angela Dewan, Lindsay Isaac, and Judith Vonberg]
  • It turns out that Babchenko was working with Ukrainian police to track down people who had allegedly been working on an assassination plot against the journalist. There are two suspects, said to be in police custody: A Ukrainian middleman allegedly recruited a former Ukrainian soldier for the hit, with Russian funding. [CNN / Angela Dewan, Lindsay Isaac, and Judith Vonberg]
  • Babchenko also apologized to his wife, who he said he wasn’t able to tell about staging his own death and who likely just went through a very traumatic 24 hours. [Vox / Zeeshan Aleem]



“I know Yankee fans. They boo you when they love you.” [Rudy Giuliani, after being booed by a stadium of Yankees fans / The Daily Beast]

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