If you don't have health insurance from your employer or other sponsor, the Affordable Care Act requires you to buy coverage by the end of March or pay a fine... unless you join a quasi-insurance network run by Christian ministries with names like Medi-Share. Membership in these faith-based networks has been growing rapidly as the ObamaCare individual mandate deadline approaches, says Fox News' Garrett Tenney. He goes on to explain:
The nation's three largest ministries boast more than 242,000 members, spanning all 50 states, who agree to live so-called biblical lifestyles — meaning regular church attendance; no drugs, tobacco, or sex outside of marriage; and limited alcohol consumption. This kind of healthier lifestyle helps keep monthly premiums lower than that of other health insurers for most members... Each of the ministries varies a bit in what they will and won't cover, but all are exempt from the Affordable Care Act's fines on those without health insurance. [Fox News]
The "won't cover" part is important, though. Some members of these co-ops appreciate that their plans don't cover abortion and other procedures they oppose on moral grounds, but it's also important to note that the sharing networks don't guarantee that they will pay your medical bills. Peter Weber
GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold admits to regularly calling staffers one particular vulgar name, says it was 'in jest'
Former aides to Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) have described his Capitol Hill office as a beer-fueled frat house where sexual innuendo and angry outbursts by the congressman are commonplace, and on Wednesday, another former staffer, Michale Rekola, provided some more details to CNN. "Every time he didn't like something, he would call me a f--ktard or idiot," said Rekola, Farenthold's communications director for nine months in 2015. "He would slam his fist down in rage and explode in anger."
Another former aide, Elizabeth Peace, confirmed that Farenthold would regularly use the word "f--ktards" on staffers, and Farenthold admitted doing so to CNN. He said he used the term "in jest, not in anger," though "in hindsight, I admit it wasn't appropriate." Peace also confirmed Rekola's account of crude sexual comments Farenthold made right before Rekola left town to get married. "Better have your fiancée blow you before she walks down the aisle — it will be the last time," Farenthold said, according to Rekola. He said Farenthold also joked suggestively that his fiancée maybe shouldn't wear white on her wedding day. "Every staffer in that area heard it," Peace told CNN. "It was the most shocking thing I'd heard him say at that point."
Exclusive: A former senior aide to Rep. Blake Farenthold describes new details of the congressman’s abusive behavior, including sexually graphic jokes to berating aides, that led to physical and emotional distress https://t.co/tvYGClZaLG https://t.co/N7JGqBOthP
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) December 14, 2017
Rekola developed serious stomach problems while working at Farenthold's office, and after returning from his honeymoon, he quit. Farenthold's treatment of staffers came to light with the news that he settled a sexual harassment claim by a former aide with $84,000 in public funds. He is not stepping down and plans to run for re-election next years, though he will face some strong challengers in the GOP primary. Peter Weber
"Alabama has gone blue!" Trevor Noah marveled on Wednesday's Daily Show. He congratulated Senator-elect Doug Jones (D) on his victory, then said he didn't even really know what Jones looks like. "The truth is, in this race, nobody really paid attention to Doug Jones," Noah said. "The only question was: Who is Alabama gonna choose? An accused pedophile or a person allowed to babysit?"
Republicans are now left with a one-vote majority, but they only have themselves to blame for going with "Cowboy Roman Polanski," who still hasn't admitted he lost, Noah said, playing parts of Moore's non-concession speech. "My man, you're waiting to see what God is going to say? Alabama, after 25 years, just went Democrat. If there ever was an act of God, this is it. ... If I was God, I'd be so pissed at Roy Moore, I'd be like, 'Yo, dude, I gave you the biggest sign — I literally parted a red sea!.'"
On Late Night, Seth Meyers mostly he wanted to talk about Republicans. "One big question after the results came in was how will Donald Trump react? And surprisingly, he seemed to strike a conciliatory tone," he said, reading the tweet. "There is no way Donald Trump wrote that tweet. He probably went to the bathroom and forgot his phone, and somebody said, This is our chance, write something decent!"
Meyers said this is a big back eye for Trump, the Republican Party, and Stephen Bannon, who made a big gaffe at Moore's madcap closing rally. "How stupid do you have to be to insult the University of Alabama in Alabama?" Meyers asked. "Who do you think they're going to support? Roll Tide or someone who looks like he literally rolled up in the tide?"
On The Late Show, Stephen Colbert turned the end of the campaign into a plausible TV theme song, "The Legend of Roy Moore." Watch below. Peter Weber
Had the fuel light not gone on in his car, Dr. Javier Soto would never have stopped at a Speedway gas station in Merritt Island, Florida, on Saturday, and had he never stopped at the gas station, he wouldn't be able to tell people about the baby he delivered there in the back of a pickup truck.
While filling up, Soto, an OB/GYN, was approached by a man who saw he was wearing blue hospital scrubs and asked if he was in the medical field, Soto told People. The man said his fiancée was in labor in the back of his truck, and when Soto ran over, he realized he knew the woman — she was one of his former patients, who switched doctors because of her insurance. The baby's head was already visible, so Soto jumped into action, asking the man to run inside the station to ask for gloves and scissors and the friend who was driving the truck for his shoelaces.
After just one push, a baby boy was born, and after drying him off, Soto wrapped the shoelace around the umbilical cord and cut it. An ambulance arrived to take the new family of three to the hospital, and Soto followed behind. Both the mother and baby "are doing great," Soto said, and after checking them out he delivered another baby — this time in the hospital, not a parking lot. Catherine Garcia
There were a lot of factors that went into Senator-elect Doug Jones' (D) upset victory in Alabama on Tuesday night — a divided Republican party, suburbanites who are fed up with President Trump, "and apparently, some people don't like accused kiddie-touchers," Trevor Noah said on Wednesday's Daily Show. "But there was one really huge factor that you can't ignore," he said: African Americans really turned out, giving Jones a higher percentage of the black vote than former President Barack Obama received.
Dulce Sloan came out and explained how it wasn't just black voters, but black women, who sank Republican Roy Moore. "You're welcome, white people, you're welcome," Sloan said, on behalf of all black women, and she had a suggestion: Maybe America could show its gratitude by "changing the laws to make it easier for us to vote, or sing our praises by giving us raises, or at the very least, cancel winter — you know only white people like snow."
On Late Night, Amber Ruffin also took a bow on behalf of black women. "Roy Moore was a well-known anti-gay, anti-Muslim, racist pedophile (allegedly)," she said. Most white women still voted for him, but 98 percent of black women voted for Jones. "P.S.: You know that's why Omarosa got fired today," Ruffin joked. "Trump was like, 'You promised me the black lady vote,' and she was probably like, 'I don't know any!'"
Ruffin invited white people to "appropriate" this example by black women, and noted that despite her initial fears about "black women" trending on Twitter, it turns out "everyone was writing 'Thank you, black women' — and that is cool, but when you're done thanking us, why don't you try voting for us and putting a few of us in office so we can run this s--t."
Daily Show regular Roy Wood Jr. just savored being publicly proud to be from Alabama. Watch below. Peter Weber
When he grows up, Caleb Green wants to be an astronaut and a Ninja Turtle, but for now, he's content spending his time reading, reading, reading.
The 4-year-old from Chicago set a huge goal for himself last Saturday — to read 100 books in one day. His father, Sylus Green, told ABC7 Chicago that at first he tried to talk his son down to a lower, more manageable number, but Caleb was adamant: He wanted to read 100 books. His parents got out all of Caleb's books, and borrowed others from friends in order to reach 100. Caleb started to read out loud, and his parents decided to stream his readathon on Facebook Live, reaching people as far away as Florida; every time he finished reading 10 books, Caleb would celebrate by doing a dance.
Caleb said he loves books and wants to "read some more like my sister." His dad said Caleb has inspired him to dream big, but probably not as big as his son. "I want to be a basketball player," Caleb said. "When I am 22 I want to be an astronaut and when I'm 23 I want to be a Ninja Turtle." Catherine Garcia
Alabama Republican Roy Moore, who lost Tuesday's special Senate election to Democrat Doug Jones, released a video message Wednesday night in which he told supporters he's not conceding and warned that the United States is in the middle of a "struggle to preserve our republic, our civilization, and our religion."
With 100 percent of precincts reporting their results, Jones is nearly 21,000 votes ahead of Moore, but Moore said the race isn't over because military and provisional ballots have yet to be counted. It's important that he not give up because "the heart and soul of our country is at stake," he said. "Like most Americans, I'm concerned about the future of our country, both financially and morally."
That's where things got grim. Americans have "certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," Moore said. However, "many do not share the vision of those who built this country," he continued. "Today, we no longer recognize the universal truth that God is the author of our life and liberty. Abortion, sodomy, and materialism have taken the place of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Moore launched into a laundry list of ways Americans have "forgotten God," including ending prayer in school and recognizing "the right of a man to claim to be a woman, and vice versa." He ended his message of doom with a cheery "Merry Christmas!" Um, thanks? Catherine Garcia
A Republican Kentucky state lawmaker accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl in 2012 died by probable suicide on Wednesday, authorities said.
Bullitt County Sheriff Donnie Tinnell said state Rep. Dan Johnson, 57, shot himself on a bridge in Mount Washington, Kentucky, his body discovered on the bank of the Salt River. Johnson, pastor of the Heart of Fire church in Louisville, was elected to the state legislature in 2016, despite his fellow Republicans calling on him to drop out of the race after racist posts he made on Facebook about the Obamas were unearthed. On Monday, the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting published the account of a woman who said on New Year's Eve 2012, when she was 17 years old, Johnson assaulted her in an apartment underneath his church's fellowship hall, kissing and groping her despite her pleas to stop.
The woman said she went to the police and an investigation was opened, but no charges were filed; in a press conference Tuesday, Johnson called the allegations "totally false." Johnson posted a message on Facebook Wednesday evening in which he stated that PTSD "is a sickness that will take my life, I cannot handle it any longer," The Associated Press reports, and asked his friends to look after his wife. Catherine Garcia