KVCL Local News

A new congressional report suggests that Medicaid is helping drive the nationís opioid crisis by making it easier for enrollees to abuse and then resell the highly addictive painkillers. At least 1,072 people have been convicted or charged nationwide since 2010 for improperly using Medicaid to obtain prescription opioids, some of which were then resold on the nationís streets. The number of criminal defendants increased 18 percent in the four years after Medicaid expanded under the Affordable Care Act, the report said. As of October, about 68 million people were enrolled in Medicaid. The Republican report highlights a number of ways that Medicaid recipients are abusing the program to obtain opioids. The criminal activities range from beneficiaries simply selling opioids they obtained through the Medicaid program to fraud involving Medicaid reimbursement

A Deville man was killed in a Grant Parish crash late Wednesday afternoon. State police responded to the crash around 5:50 p.m., which occurred on US Hwy 167, south of Dry Prong near Brunson Road. The crash involved a 2017 GMC pickup, driven by 53 year-old Travis L. Lowe, of Deville. The GMC was southbound on US Hwy 167 when Lowe lost control and ran off the left side of the road. The vehicle traveled through the grass median, and across both northbound lanes, before colliding with a large tree. Lowe was not wearing a seat belt and was transported to Rapides Regional Trauma Center where he was pronounced dead. Road conditions, speed, or impairment were not considered factors in the crash.

The Louisiana Department of Revenue is increasing its efforts to collect taxes on purchases made from out-of-state internet retailers. Residents who bought products last year from online companies and did not pay state sales taxes will begin receiving notifications this month from the retailers, telling them they owe taxes to the state. The Department of Revenue said this is the first year notice letters will be sent to shoppers. The letters, which will be mailed by January 31, will be an annual occurrence under 2016 legislation. Louisiana taxpayers are supposed to report online purchases for which state sales tax wasn't charged on their income tax returns and pay taxes on them. Under the new law, retailers also must send annual reports to the revenue department, which can cross-check the information with tax returns.

A Montgomery man was arrested Monday and was charged in a hit and run fatality that occurred in November. Louisiana State Police arrested and charged 26 year-old Christopher George Welch of Montgomery for felony hit and run, careless operation, and driving under suspension. Welch was arrested and charged based on information obtained during the fatal crash investigation that killed 21 year-old Hunter Thomisee. Welch was booked into the Winn Parish Jail. The death occurred in November 2017 on LA Hwy. 34 near Davidson Road, when Thomissee fell from the bed of a pickup.

Louisiana is developing a proposal to impose work requirements on certain adult Medicaid recipients, as the Trump administration announced it will allow states to enact such provisions. Governor John Bel Edwards said that his administration is "actively working" on the concept, which would require federal approval to be enacted. The governor said he wants the work requirements to be "reasonable," impacting only able-bodied adult Medicaid recipients, with exceptions for people in school or educational training programs. Edwards said Louisiana has hired a consulting firm that helped develop a Medicaid work requirement proposal for Kentucky, which is awaiting a federal decision. The Trump administration Thursday offered a roadmap for states seeking federal backing for waivers imposing the work requirements on the low-income adults in the Medicaid program.

Louisiana taxpayers can start filing their 2017 state personal income tax returns on January 29. The Louisiana Department of Revenue announced Monday it will start accepting individual income tax returns the same day the IRS starts taking federal income tax returns. Taxpayers are encouraged to file state taxes online, but they can also download paper tax forms from the revenue department website or file returns through other tax preparation software. Updated printed forms will not be available until January 29. Those who are due a refund can expect to wait 60 days from the filing date for electronic returns or 14 weeks if returns are filed on paper. The deadline to file Louisiana individual income tax returns is May 15.

Winn Parish Sheriff's Department Arrest Report:

On Thursday, January 11, the Winn Parish Sheriff's Department arrested Zak Aymond, of Winnfield. Aymond was arrested on three warrants for failure to appear. On Friday, January 12, deputies arrested Nekisha Ellison, of Winnfield, for failure to appear. Also arrested on January 12 was Damion Foster, of Winnfield, for resisting an officer and failure to appear, Mikal Edwarda, of Winnfield, for probation violation, and Christopher Smiley, of Winnfield, for parole violation and possession of marijuana, methamphetamine, and Xanax.

LifeShare Blood Center will hold a blood drive at Hardtner Medical Center Friday, January 26, from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. There will also be a blood drive at Jackson Parish Hospital Tuesday, January 30, from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. LifeShare Blood Center reports a critically low blood supply and is asking anyone who may be able to donate blood to go to a LifeShare center or blood drive. Following a number of weather-related blood drive cancellations, operations are returning to normal with extended hours through the weekend including opening on Sunday to accommodate more donors. The holidays, flu epidemic, and inclement weather have caused a steady drop in blood donations the last few weeks resulting in a blood supply of less than two days.

Winn Parish residents now have access to a new emergency alert program called Nixle which sends alerts to cell phones to notify people of emergencies in our area as they happen. In order to receive alerts, persons must first sign up by text message. To sign up, you need to:

1. Text winnparish (one word) to 888-777

2. Enter your zip code when you receive a text requesting it.

3. You should receive a text to thank you for signing up.

These steps will enable persons to get messages by cellphone. To get the most localized alerts, persons may register online at www.nixle.com and enter their home address and landline telephone number. For more information, visit www.nixle.com.

Congressman Ralph Abraham has announced satellite office hours for Central Louisiana parishes. Office hours for Winn Parish will be in the Winn Parish Police Jury meeting room at 119 West Main Street, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month. Constituents are encouraged to visit the staff during these hours if they need help with any federal agency. Staff members are also available during business hours at the Central Louisiana District Office in Alexandria, which can be reached at 318-445-0818.

The next meeting of the Louisiana Crime Victims Reparations Board will be on Tuesday, February 13, at 9:00 a.m., at the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement Office, at 602 North Fifth Street in Baton Rouge. The public is invited to attend this meeting, and assistance will be provided to those who need special accommodations in order to attend this meeting. For more information, persons may call 225.342.1500