RHINELANDER - October will be a big month for the Affordable Care Act.
If you don't have insurance, that's when federal exchange plans will be available.
But many Wisconsinites still have questions on how the program will affect them.
That's why seniors met in Rhinelander Friday.The Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans hosted the forum. Billy Feitlinger, executive director of the alliance, discussed Medicare, Social Security and the Affordable Care Act.
His group supports the healthcare reform because it will keep Medicare in the green for an additional nine years.
But some like Gloria Oberneder know people who feel lost in the system.
"Most people who become seniors and are on that low income, if they are not on Medicaid and they do make a little more money, they are always searching for answers for different things and they are confused,"Oberneder said.
Another concern was rising policy cost. A new Rand Corporation study says the reform won't have widespread cost increases for policies.
But experts like Robert Laszewski of the Health Policy & Strategy Associates projected an increase in Wisconsin at a June summit in Wausau.
"Wisconsin is one of the states projected to have the biggest increases," Laszewski said. "That's because the the affordable care act sets very high standards for what package of insurance looks like."
The forum also focused heavily on Social Security. That's because Congress is preparing for another fight over spending cuts and the debt ceiling, and Billy Feitlinger worries Social Security could be targeted.
"There should be some reform to Social Security, but it should not be in the context of the federal deficit or debt ceiling because Social Security hasn't contributed one penny to the federal deficit."
That's because funding for Social Security has always been automatically taken out of our paychecks. But more Baby Boomers are entering the program, and under current obligations the $2.7 trillion fund will run dry by 2033.
VILAS COUNTY - Earlier this month, legislators put a proposal into the state budget that would take away a county's ability to make its own shoreline zoning regulations. Here in the Northwoods, two counties have come out against that proposal.
If the state budget went through as it's written right now, individual counties and lake associations could lose their power to set zoning regulations. That's a big issue for many in the Northwoods. Vilas County alone has 1,300 lakes. The proposal has caused great concerns.
"The concern was that the proposal had the potential for doing great damage to the environment, had the potential for causing a severe problem as far as assessment procedures, and generally was opposed by the citizens-the residents-of this county," said Chuck Hayes, a Vilas County supervisor.
Vilas and Oneida counties both held board meetings last week. Both counties voted to ask for removal of zoning changes from the budget. They argue the issue of shoreline zoning was never given any time to be discussed.
"At the very least, I think the public should have had a chance to weigh in on this issue that affects the environment," said Hayes. "The counties, the municipalities and individual residents, their opinion wasn't sought on this. It was simply put in."
MADISON - The Legislature may vote on a financing deal for a Milwaukee Bucks arena as well as proposed changes to the prevailing wage law in a special session, the Legislature's budget committee co-chair said Tuesday.
WISCONSIN - With the Fourth of July right around the corner, many people will enjoy the holiday out in the warm weather. If you plan to be one of those people, it's important to remember some food safety tips to avoid getting sick this weekend.
ANTIGO - A new grant program could bring new businesses to downtown Antigo. The area has had trouble filling empty buildings for the past few years, but county and city leaders say Downtown Antigo is making a comeback.
Now, business owners who open a store downtown can get some money back.
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