Auto insurer to market Blue Cross health coverage
CHICAGO (AP) - Consumers shopping for health insurance in five states will be able to buy one well-known brand from a leading provider of car insurance.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield health plans and State Farm announced Tuesday they're joining forces for the second year of expanded coverage under President Barack Obama's health care law. State Farm agents will sell health policies both on and off the new insurance marketplaces, allowing consumers who qualify to take advantage of financial assistance under the law.
More than 3,300 State Farm employees will market Blue Cross policies in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, said Chicago-based Health Care Service Corp. and Bloomington, Illinois-based State Farm in a press release.
Open enrollment begins Nov. 15 for coverage starting Jan. 1.
Judge lowers damages against Hyundai in crash case
(Information in the following story is from: KERR-AM, http://www.750kerr.com/)
POLSON, Mont. (AP) - A Montana judge has reduced a punitive damages award from $240 million to $73 million in a lawsuit against Hyundai (HUHN'-day) over a crash that killed two Missoula cousins in July 2011.
KERR-AM reports jurors awarded actual damages of $1 million to each parent and $500,000 to each sibling of 19-year-old Trevor Olson and 14-year-old Tanner Olson.
The cousins' families alleged a broken steering knuckle in the Hyundai vehicle Trevor was driving caused the crash. The May decision also awarded $2.6 million for lost earnings to Trevor Olson's estate.
District Judge Kim Christopher ruled a state law that limits punitive damages to the lesser of $10 million or 3 percent of a defendant's net worth is unconstitutional. However, she says punitive damage awards must be reasonable, and she set the amount at $73 million.
Montana officials investigate wolf-kill brag
HELENA, Montana (AP) - Montana, Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials say they investigating a Missoula man's anti-wolf claim that he purposefully ran down a pair of wolves along the Idaho-Montana border.
The Great Falls Tribune reports that Toby Bridges posted on Facebook last week bragging that he killed two wolves in his wife's van.
Capt. Joseph Jaquith says he is trying to determine if they can do anything since Bridges used social media and he doesn't have any physical evidence.
Bridges' post included graphic details about how he accelerated his vehicle to intentionally hit a group of wolves that ran out across the highway. Jaquith added that it is illegal to intentionally run over animals in a vehicle in Montana.
Bridges did not respond to an email from the newspaper seeking comment.
GAY COUPLE-COMMUNION DENIED
300 parishoners meet with bishop over gay couple
(Information in the following story is from: Great Falls Tribune, http://www.greatfallstribune.com)
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) - A Roman Catholic bishop says a central Montana parish is about evenly divided over a new priest's decision to prohibit a gay couple from receiving Communion unless they divorce, live separately and write a statement affirming that a marriage is between one man and one woman.
Bishop Michael Warfel of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings met Saturday with about 300 parishoners of St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Lewistown, where he also led a Mass. He says about half supported the priest's decision while the other half were very angry.
Warfel told the Great Falls Tribune that he must uphold Catholic teachings, but also wants to effect some healing.
The couple said they were married in a civil ceremony in Seattle in May 2013 to be able to make medical and financial decisions for each other.
Massachusetts man killed in MT helicopter crash
CASCADE, Mont. (AP) - A Massachusetts man died in a weekend helicopter crash in Montana.
Cascade County Sheriff Bob Edwards says the helicopter, a one-person craft known as a Mosquito, crashed into a hillside shortly after 5 p.m. Sunday near Dearborn, which is about halfway between Great Falls and Helena.
The coroner's office identified the victim as 62-year-old John Joseph Maliszewski of Ipswich, Massachusetts.
Don Ryan, who lives near the crash site, told the Great Falls Tribune that he saw the helicopter fly up a canyon, but then start to spin out of control after turning back.
The pilot's body was taken to the state crime lab in Missoula for an autopsy.
The sheriff said investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration planned to visit the crash site on Monday.
Families from 2 reservations charged with theft
HELENA, Mont. (AP) - A federal investigation into corruption on Montana's Indian reservations has led to the indictments of members of two families.
In the first, prosecutors accuse Brockton's business manager of forging checks from the Fort Peck reservation town's bank account to herself, her husband and their daughters.
Desiree Lambert, Bernard Lambert Jr., Kayla Lambert and Kaycee Lambert were indicted Monday on charges of wire fraud, theft and identity theft.
Separately, a husband and wife who worked for Stone Child College in Box Elder are accused of taking more than $242,000 in kickbacks from a construction company.
Melody and Frank Henry are charged with embezzlement conspiracy, theft and bribery.
A phone listed under Melody Henry's name was disconnected. There is no phone listing for the Lamberts.
It is not clear whether any of the defendants have hired attorneys.
MSU enrollment up 1 percent, UM falls 3.9 percent
HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Montana State University announced a record enrollment of 15,421 students this fall while the University of Montana reported a 3.9 percent decrease to 13,952 students.
MSU's enrollment is up 127 students or 1 percent compared to last year. UM's total headcount was down 573 students, the schools reported Monday.
The enrollment numbers include the universities' two-year schools - Gallatin College and Missoula College.
UM officials expected the enrollment decline due to smaller incoming classes the past two years while having larger graduating classes.
Montana reported 1,597 freshmen enrolled this fall, an increase of 96 students, or 6.4 percent. Montana State meanwhile, reported a freshman class of 2,943 students, up 22 students from a year ago.
MSU said its Gallatin College had a 36 percent enrollment increase while UM said Missoula College saw a 9 percent decline.