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Noon Newscast 10.18.19: Lethal Injection Ruling, Facilities Fined and Journalist Remembered

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The lethal injection protocol that was used in 2018 to execute a Nebraska prisoner survived a legal challenge Friday from death penalty opponents who had hoped to overturn it to prevent the state from carrying out capital punishment.

The Nebraska Supreme Court sided with state officials who adopted the new protocol in 2017 to allow the state to resume executions.

Nebraska and other states have found it increasingly difficult to carry out executions because many drug companies don't want their products used to kill inmates and are refusing to sell them to correctional departments.

Officials say it's unlikely the state will carry out another execution anytime soon.

A federal judge has ordered five home health care facilities in Iowa and South Dakota accused of filing fraudulent Medicare claims to pay more than $3.1 million.

A complaint filed in federal court accused Sergeant Bluff Healthcare and Elk Point Healthcare of filing Medicare claims for home health services billed by a third-party for services that did not qualify for Medicare coverage or were not justified or necessary.

Prosecutors say the fraudulent claims were filed from January 2012 through December 2015.

For most of that time, the facilities were managed by a Minnesota company that has since gone out of business.

A judge ordered the facilities including Sergeant Bluff Healthcare and Elk Point Health Care to pay various amounts ranging from $1.2 million to nearly $116,000.

A long-time journalist for the Sioux City Journal has passed away.

Lynn Zerschling covered several beats during her 28 year career with the newspaper.

Zershling retired in September of 2013 but you could still see her work every Sunday in the “From the Archives” section that would look at the historic event that took place in the community.

Many farmers in the Midwest and South whose planting this year was interrupted by wet weather are getting a reprieve, though a few Northern states have seen harvest prospects go from bad to worse.

Minnesota and the Dakotas have seen snow and rain in recent weeks that have hampered an already difficult harvest.

But much of the Corn Belt has somewhat recovered from heavy rains and flooding in the spring and summer, with experts predicting good yields from what did get planted, though it's still a far from stellar year for most farmers.

In its Oct. 10 crop production report, U.S. Department of Agriculture bumped up corn yields for several states including Iowa.