OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Doctors in Nebraska treating a U.S. doctor battling the Ebola virus say they now expect him to make a full recovery. Fifty-one-year-old Rick Sacra contracted Ebola while working at a hospital in Liberia. He's been hospitalized in Omaha since September 5th. Doctor Phil Smith is the medical director of the Nebraska Medical Center isolation unit where Sacra is being treated. Smith said Wednesday that an initial set of blood samples from Sacra sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed a decreased amount of the virus in his blood Doctors are now awaiting results of a second set of blood samples. Doctor Angela Hewlett, associate medical director of the unit, says there must be two negative blood tests done 24 hours apart for Sacra to be released.
Heineman: Gale was right to allow ballot switch
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Governor Dave Heineman says Nebraska's secretary of state was right to allow Republican governor candidate Pete Ricketts to swap running mates on the November ballot. Heineman said Wednesday that allowing the switch will help avoid voter confusion, and he noted that the ballots haven't been printed yet. His comments came after Secretary of State John Gale announced that Ricketts could replace former Lieutenant Governor Lavon Heidemann with State Auditor Mike Foley on the ballot. Ricketts requested the change even though a September 1st deadline to commit to a running mate had passed. Heidemann resigned from office and withdrew from the race last week after a judge approved his sister's request for a protection order. Gale and Heineman are Republicans. Ricketts is running against Democrat Chuck Hassebrook.
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Governor Dave Heineman says he's received budget requests from virtually every agency in state government, but he's waiting for one straggler: the Nebraska Legislature. Heineman criticized lawmakers Wednesday for missing Monday's statutory deadline to submit a request for operating expenses, including salaries and benefits. Heineman says his office hasn't received anything from the Legislature's Executive Board, which has scheduled a meeting Friday to approve its request. Legislative staffers say it's ready, but they needed time to convene committee members, and they notified Nebraska's budget office that it would arrive late. Heineman says he called attention to it because of recent criticism of Secretary of State John Gale. Gale allowed Republican Pete Ricketts to change his gubernatorial running mate after a September 1st deadline. Senator Ernie Chambers called the switch illegal.
Heineman: Trade centers in China, Japan worthwhile
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Governor Dave Heineman says state-sponsored trade centers in China and Japan have proven their worth to Nebraska and ought to be continued to help local businesses expand into Asian markets. Heineman said Wednesday that the centers play a long-term role in building business relationships in Asia. His remarks came after he announced that Nebraska has been chosen to host the U.S.-Japan Association's 50th annual conference in September 2018. Each center costs the state around $125,000 a year. Dacia Kruse, the Department of Economic Development's acting director, says Nebraska businesses help cover some of the costs of each center. Melissa Ross, marketing director for Oxbow Animal Health, says the Japanese center has helped her Murdock-based company bridge the cultural gap that foreign companies sometimes encounter in Asia.
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska officials have agreed to release an inmate who was sent back to prison amid questions about miscalculated sentences. The Nebraska Attorney General's Office said Wednesday that David Amesbury qualified for time already served and should be released immediately. Amesbury was originally released from prison in 2012 after serving more than 10 years. He was rounded up in June amid questions of whether hundreds of inmates were released early from prison. Amesbury filed a lawsuit challenging his return to prison. The Omaha World-Herald reports his attorney argued that Amesbury was given an illegal sentence because a judge improperly gave him a separate sentence for a habitual criminal charge. Amesbury's release marks the second time state officials have released an inmate rounded up in June.
Nebraska health insurance cost dispute unresolved
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A major Nebraska health insurer remains unable to come to terms with one of the state's biggest medical networks, so thousands of people are either facing significantly higher costs or changing doctors. No talks have been held since the contract between Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska and Catholic Health Initiatives expired September 1st. The expired contract covered all CHI Health hospitals in Omaha, Schuyler and Plainview. It also includes hospitals in Lincoln, Grand Island, Kearney and Nebraska City affiliated with Catholic Health Initiatives. Blue Cross says CHI Health, which used to be Alegent Creighton Health, routinely charges 10 to 30 percent more than other Omaha hospitals. CHI Health says those figures are misleading and its total cost of treatment is lower even if certain services cost more.
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