Wednesday, November 26, 2014
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Nebraska insurer rejects medical network's offer

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska is rejecting the latest contract offer from one of the state's biggest medical networks because the insurer says the offer still costs too much.

CHI Health officials offered a new agreement to Blue Cross earlier this week that would have cut rates by $10 million. But Blue Cross officials say CHI Health's rates have been roughly $60 million higher in the Omaha market.

So Blue Cross rejected CHI Health's offer on Thursday.

Numerous facilities and doctors affiliated with CHI Health have been out of the Blue Cross network since Sept. 1, so they are significantly more expensive for the insurer's customers.

In several rural Nebraska communities, CHI Health operates the only hospital in town.


Official: Dog attack killed girl on Pine Ridge Reservation

Authorities in South Dakota say a pack of dogs attacked and killed an 8-year-old girl on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Police Chief Ron Duke tells the Rapid City Journal that the girl was attacked around 5 p.m. Tuesday while she was sledding near a housing complex.

Duke says the girl's death has renewed concerns about packs of dogs moving unrestrained in every district of the reservation.

Duke is urging parents to not leave their children outdoors unsupervised.


Oil pipeline still in limbo after vote in Congress

The proposed oil pipeline linking Canadian producers to the U.S. Gulf Coast isn't much closer to reality after Congress failed to approve it.

The measure requiring approval of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline passed the House but fell short of the votes it needed in the U.S. Senate this week. So the pipeline that was first proposed in 2008 remains in limbo.

The pipeline has attracted opposition from environmentalists and some landowners who worry about the potential damage from a pipeline leak and from oil mining in Canada. But many supporters of the project say those fears are exaggerated.

Landowner Ronald Weber says he thinks the project should have been built a long time ago, but that may not happen until a new president is elected.


New Nebraska tax law likely to slow revenue growth

Nebraska's state tax revenue likely won't grow as fast in the future because of a law passed earlier this year.

The director of Nebraska's Legislative Fiscal Office said Wednesday that the average growth rate will likely decline in the future.

State officials generally assume that revenue will grow at an average rate of 5 percent per year. Fiscal office director Michael Calvert told a legislative committee that a new tax-bracket indexing law will slow the increases over time.

The law ensures that Nebraska's income tax brackets automatically keep pace with inflation. Previously, taxpayers who received a cost-of-living increase would get bumped into a higher tax bracket, where they ended up paying more.

Lawmakers will craft a new two-year state budget in the session that begins in January.


No cause yet for fire at Mitchell grain elevator

Authorities say they will need to remove chemicals and other debris from a grain elevator complex building in Mitchell before they can start investigating the cause of a fire that destroyed the structure.

The Wednesday fire occurred in a CHS Farmers Alliance building that housed farm chemicals and fertilizer. No one was hurt, and authorities say there was no immediate danger to the public. A Sioux Falls company was called in to monitor air quality.

Company General Manager Jim Morken tells The Daily Republic newspaper that officials believe all of the chemicals were contained within the burned-out structure.

Morken tells KELO-TV that the company had just completed construction of the building last summer. He says the fire is a setback, but crunch time for farm chemicals won't be until spring.


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