Republican businessman Matt Bevin was elected governor of Kentucky on Tuesday. This is good news if you're Matt Bevin. It's potentially very bad news if you're one of the 521,000 formerly uninsured Kentuckians who have received health insurance through the Affordable Cart Act.
Over the last five years, term-limited Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear cut the state's uninsured rate by more than half by accepting federal funding to expand Medicaid, and by setting up a state-run health-insurance exchange called Kynect. Today, approximately 400,000 Kentuckians have received health insurance via Medicaid expansion.
As John Oliver masterfully explained, Bevin has promised to eliminate Kynect—a bright spot at the state level amid the chaotic HealthCare.gov rollout—and he's been cagey about his plans for Medicaid. After campaigning on repealing Obamacare wholsesale during his unsuccessful 2014 Senate primary, he changed tune toward the end of his race this fall, suggesting that he would ask the administration for a waiver to restructure Medicaid but not kick anyone "to the curb."
Up until this point, Kentucky has been one of the most compelling arguments not just for why the law was needed, but also that it can work. Just check out this map, compiled by the lone Democrat in the state's Congressional delegation, Rep. John Yarmuth:
You may have missed Bernie Sanders' town hall at Virginia's George Mason University on Wednesday as the GOP presidential contenders duked it out in Boulder, Colorado. But he made some news. Sanders called for the full decriminalization of marijuana at the federal level, a move that would allow states to regulate the drug the same way they handle alcohol or tobacco. "Right now marijuana is listed by the federal government as a schedule-one drug, meaning that it is considered to be as dangerous as heroin," Sanders said. "That is absurd."
Sanders, while touting the possible civic benefits of decriminalization (such as providing a funding stream, through taxation, for treatment of more dangerous substances such as opioids) took pains to frame legalization as a matter of racial justice:
Let us be clear, as is the case in many other areas, that there is a racial component to this situation. Although about the same proportion of blacks and whites use marijuana, a black person is almost four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person. Too many Americans have seen their lives destroyed because they have criminal records because of marijuana use. That is wrong. That has got to change…A criminal record could include not only time in jail, but a criminal record makes it harder for a person to get a job, harder for a person to get public benefits, harder for a person to even get housing. A criminal record stays with a person for his or her entire life.
The legalization he proposed would also eliminate one of the roadblocks to decriminalization in places such as Washington state or Colorado, by allowing marijuana distributors to use the banking system like any other business.
Republicans overwhelmingly elected Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as the 54th speaker of the House on Thursday morning. After a tumultuous month that began with the aborted candidacy of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Ryan, the House GOP's budget guru and 2012 vice presidential nominee, received 236 votes from his caucus. Just nine Republicans voted for his challenger, Rep. Daniel Webster of Florida.
Things got testy at Wednesday's GOP presidential debate when CNBC's Becky Quick asked Donald Trump about his criticism of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (who supports expanding the number of visas offered to highly skilled workers). The GOP front-runner, running on a staunchly anti-immigration platform, didn't just play dumb—he went on the attack. Trump alleged that the Zuckerberg story had been fabricated by the media. When Quick followed up with the actual quote from Trump, he again denied having ever said it.