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Nevada exchange recommends Deloitte contract

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — The board overseeing Nevada's health insurance exchange Thursday recommended another contractor be retained to assess the state's problem-plagued online market system.

The Silver State Health Insurance Exchange board of directors endorsed Deloitte Consulting to evaluate the system set up by Xerox. A proposed contract authorizing up to $1.5 million requires approval by the state Board of Examiners.

Deloitte is already part of Nevada's effort to set up its own health exchange under the Affordable Care Act. It developed the system within the state Department of Health and Human Services to determine Medicaid eligibility and verify income and Social Security information through federal data hubs.

Department Director Mike Willden recommended the firm, citing its success within his agency and its familiarity with at least half of Nevada's system.

Xerox was awarded a $75 million contract to develop Nevada's online Web portal and call center. But the operation has been riddled with problems including lost payments, a backlog of consumer correspondence and computer errors. Since enrollments began Oct. 1, only 20,214 people have paid for policies through the exchange.

With only about three weeks to go in the enrollment period, sign-ups will be far fewer than the original target of 118,000 — a shortfall many blame on poor performance by Xerox.

The company is being paid in stages only as performance benchmarks are met.


Officers cleared in fatal Las Vegas jail struggle

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The district attorney in Las Vegas says four veteran jail officers won't face criminal charges in a fatal struggle with an inmate in a Clark County Detention Center more than a year ago.

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson says 38-year-old prisoner Luis Solano created a potentially dangerous disruption by resisting officers in a common area of a jail psychiatric unit, and the officers didn't use excessive force while restraining him.

Witnesses told investigators the confrontation began when Solano failed to follow guards' commands to stop knocking on a control room window asking for water.

Six of 14 inmates who reported witnessing the three-minute struggle said they heard Solano declaring that he couldn't breathe before he became unconscious on the floor. Several reported hearing officers tell Solano to stop resisting.

Solano died nine days later at a hospital. The Clark County coroner ruled he died of complications of suffocation due to police restraint procedures, and noted renal failure and an enlarged heart.


FBI launches task force for "Gypsy Hill Murders"

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (AP) — The FBI said Thursday it is launching a task force to re-examine a series of unsolved murders of young women that happened along the San Francisco Peninsula nearly 40 years ago that law enforcement think might be linked to a similar woman's killing in Nevada.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Gerald Bessette says the multi-agency task force will be looking at ties between the slayings of five women in San Mateo County dubbed the "Gypsy Hill Murders" in 1976 with the murder of Michelle Mitchell, a University of Nevada-Reno nursing student who also was killed that same year.

FBI spokesman Peter Lee says law enforcement officials think the same person may be responsible for the killings.

Lee says all of the victims were college-aged women, and many had experienced car problems and were by themselves before they disappeared.

In February 1976, Mitchell's car broke down across from the University of Nevada-Reno School of Agriculture. She called her mother for a ride, but she could not be found when her mom arrived 10 minutes later. Her body was discovered in a garage half a block away by a couple returning home from a night out. Mitchell's hands were tied behind her back, and her throat was slashed.

Cathy Woods, a mental patient at the Louisiana State University Medical Center, was convicted of Mitchell's murder. Reno police Deputy Chief Mac Venzon says the new examined evidence does not connect Woods to the killing.


Tropicana casino in Vegas reaches deal with union

LAS VEGAS (AP) —The Culinary and bartenders unions have agreed on a five-year contract with the Tropicana casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

The tentative agreement will cover about 650 hotel workers.

The previous contract expired in June.

The unions recently agreed on new contracts with MGM Resorts International and Caesars. More than a dozen independent casinos are still in negotiations. These include the Golden Nugget, the D, Tropicana and the Stratosphere.

Members of the Culinary Union, the largest union in Las Vegas, plan to vote later this month on whether to authorize negotiators to call a strike.


Vegas eyes another 6-month ban on pot dispensaries

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Las Vegas City Council is considering extending a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries that is set to expire later this month.

A proposal introduced Wednesday would put a six-month ban on the businesses. It's up for debate and a possible vote on March 19.

The city's current six-month moratorium expires March 17.

Nevada voters approved medical marijuana in 2000, but that law provided no legal way for patients to obtain the drug except to grow it themselves.

Lawmakers passed a law in 2013 that sets up a framework for distributing medical marijuana, although it allows cities and counties to impose moratoriums.


UNLV's Bryce Dejean-Jones suspended

LAS VEGAS (AP) — UNLV leading scorer Bryce Dejean-Jones will not play in the Rebels' regular-season finale at Nevada on Saturday.

Coach Dave Rice said Thursday that the junior guard was being suspended through the weekend for conduct detrimental to the team.

In addition to sitting out the Nevada game, the 21-year-old would not practice with the team on Friday.

Dejean-Jones has started 26 games and is averaging 13.4 points per game.

UNLV hosts the conference tournament next week.

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