News, December 3rd

DENVER (AP) – Colorado officials say health care reform has given them the power to curb insurance rate hikes. Those curbs helped the state block a 24 percent increase request by Cigna.  Cigna wanted to raise rates for individual health policies in 2013 by 31 percent in several mountain counties in a way the state says isn’t justified.
Colorado changed a law that allowed insurers to raise rates and get permission later, and the federal Affordable Care Act of 2010 now requires a review of hikes of more than 10 percent a year. Cigna covers about 21,000 people in Colorado, and says it needed the increase because hospital costs in Pitkin, Routt, Eagle and Garfield counties are 28 percent higher than the rest of rural Colorado.

MONUMENT. (AP) – Dozens of people gathered for a prayer vigil for a 13-year-old boy who has been missing for two weeks in the mountains near Durango.
The vigil Sunday night was held for Dylan Redwine, who lives with his mother in Colorado Springs but was visiting his dad near Durango for Thanksgiving as part of a court order when he disappeared.  Authorities say they don’t believe Dylan ran away. People have been going door to door since last week looking for any information that could help them find him. Maria Goodall, Dylan’s grandmother, said the family doesn’t care how Dylan went missing as long as he comes back safely.

DENVER (AP) – Gov. John Hickenlooper says expanding school hours in four Colorado school districts can lead to dramatic changes to how students’ and teachers’ days are structured.   Hickenlooper made the remarks Monday during an announcement that Colorado was among five states participating in a three-year pilot program to add at least 300 hours of learning time to the calendar year in some schools starting in 2013.
Hickenlooper says Denver, Boulder, Jefferson and Adams school districts will start the longer hours impacting about 5,000 students. The Democratic governor says it will be an opportunity for the state to also look at changing how a school day is structured and what technology to use in teaching. Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee are also participating.   Federal, state and district funds will cover costs.

ESTES PARK, Colo. (AP) – High winds and dry conditions have prompted fire officials in the Estes Valley and Boulder County to impose fire bans.
Monday’s bans come as about 150 firefighters battle the 4,400-acre Fern Lake Fire in Rocky Mountain National Park. That fire has been burning for nearly two months, but strong winds spread it over the weekend.  Several hundred people were evacuated. The fire is 20 percent contained. A fire ban was imposed Monday in the Estes Valley Fire Protection District. To the south, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle also enacted a fire ban in unincorporated parts of the county.