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.
ST. GERMAIN - We all love our favorite sports teams. But what would happen if you had to dress up in your rival's gear? That's exactly what happened to Bears fan, Jerry Healy.
He's the janitor at St. Germain Elementary School. Healy challenged the students to raise over $700 for charity. If they did he'd wear the green and gold.
“Mr Healy you're unbelievable thank you for doing this,” says Jerry Healy, St. Germain Elementary School Janitor. “One kid said, "all this is disgusting Mr. Healy,” and another little kid who's a diehard Packers fan came up he came up and he's got an orange and blue pair of pants on and goes I'm a bears fan, today you're a packer fan, and that was pretty cool he's in second grade.”
As you can see the students surpassed the goal. The money went to pennies for patients. It’s an organization that supports people diagnosed with leukemia. The challenge brought the whole school together.
“Well I think they rose to the occasion they understood they're helping others in an easy but fun way. They came together as a class, as a whole school and just had a lot of fun with it,” says Jeff Waltz, a third grade teacher at St. Germain Elementary School.
This wasn't the first time Jerry got to dress up as a Packers fan. He did the same thing a few years ago when students accomplished a reading goal.
RHINELANDER - Wisconsin will get a new state attorney general this election year.That could mean new changes for the department.
But many of the candidates agree that more needs to be done to deal with heroin in Wisconsin.
Police and prosecutors say the drug continues to spread throughout the state. Republican candidate Brad Schimel, Waukesha County district attorney, believes heroin and opiates are one of the state’s biggest challenge.
"We're seeing more people die from accidental drug overdoses than we're seeing in car crashes," Schimel said. "That is a dangerous statistic for us to be looking at."
According to a Gannet Wisconsin Investigative study, at least 199 people died in 2012 in Wisconsin from drug overdoses.
The legislature has passed several bills this session to fight heroin and help people who are addicted to the drug.
State Rep. Jon Richards-(D) Milwaukee, is one of three Democratic candidates running for attorney general. He believes the state needs to keep going after drug traffickers.
"Local prosecutors and law enforcement are already stretched to the max in terms of their man power," Richards said. "We have to be addressing these new problems of public safety in creative ways and effective ways."
Democratic candidates Susan Happ and Ismael Ozanne were not available before running this story.
Richards was touring the Northwoods Friday talking to media and district attorneys in the area.
The Democratic primary is set for August 12th. Election day is Nov. 4, 2014.
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