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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Feds say health mergers would increase costs, threaten care

Federal regulators are suing to stop two major health insurance mergers because they say the deals will increase health care costs for Americans and lower the quality of care they get. The Department of Justice said Thursday that the combinations of Aetna and Humana and Anthem and Cigna would hurt competition that restrains the price of coverage and lead to reduced benefits, among other drawbacks.

Regulators fine BancorpSouth $10.6 million for redlining

The Department of Justice and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fined Mississippi-based BancorpSouth $10.6 million, alleging the bank deliberately discriminated against minorities in its lending practices.

Justice Department says indigent defendants have right to sue Idaho

The U.S. Justice Department is supporting the right of criminal defendants to sue Idaho over inadequate public defense in a case that involves two North Idaho prosecutions. Attorney General Loretta Lynch filed a brief this week supporting the ability of indigent defendants to sue over violations of their constitutional right to legal representation.

Shawn Vestal: Spokane police reform to get federal report card

The feds are getting ready to give the Spokane Police Department a report card of sorts – a wide-ranging set of recommendations arising from a two-year review of department practices. It will be several weeks before the public is allowed to see the details. But next week, the team from the Department of Justice’s COPS program will be back in town to go over the preliminary recommendations with city officials and to establish a schedule for how and when the department will meet what are expected to be about 40 recommendations.

Extendicare Health Services to pay $38 million in settlement

WASHINGTON – A nursing home chain has agreed to pay $38 million to resolve allegations that it billed Medicare and Medicaid for substandard care at nearly three dozen facilities around the country, the Justice Department said Friday. A federal investigation into Extendicare Health Services Inc. accused the company of failing to provide appropriate care, follow safety protocols or maintain enough skilled nurses. Those lapses in some cases resulted in head injuries to residents, falls, bed sores and fractures and cases of malnutrition, dehydration and infection, the government said.

Shawn Vestal: Seattle Police Department lawsuit justifies reason for DOJ reforms

The Department of Justice went to Seattle and examined the police department. It determined that the department had a pattern of using excessive force and biased tactics. It imposed a series of reforms, through a court-ordered agreement in 2012 with the city leadership, that limited and more clearly defined when officers could use physical force. It established more specific limits on when a cop can hit someone with a club or shoot them. The reformed policy says when officers use physical force, it must be because the circumstances are objectively threatening and the level of the force should be proportionate to the threat.

Spokane police to hold forum on body cameras

The public will have a chance to weigh in on the Spokane Police Department's draft policy for body cameras at a town hall in October. Residents can also weigh in on the city's website.

Feds reject state plan for Hanford cleanup

OLYMPIA — Washington rejected the U.S. Energy Department’s latest plan for the cleanup of leaking tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The federal government, in turn, rejected the state’s counteroffer, setting up the prospect that they could be headed back to court with their long-running dispute over one of the nation’s biggest nuclear cleanups.