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NEWS STORIES

Governor's administration predicts some health insurance rates will skyrocket under Affordable Care Act; opposition groups call numbers Submitted: 09/03/2013

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RHINELANDER - The Census Bureau estimates one out of every 10 people in Wisconsin who are too young for Medicare have no health insurance at all.

In January, by law, they'll have to be insured.

In less than a month, people can shop for plans on a new insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act.

On Tuesday, Governor Walker's administration warned those plans could be costly.

The administration said average rates could increase by as much as 125 percent between this year and last year for certain parts of the population.

But some Wisconsin groups believe Tuesday's numbers are misleading, and meant to scare the public.

The administration says they compared average 2013 costs for plans, and the same plans enrolled in the 2014 federal exchange.

The 125 percent example used a 21-year-old living in the Madison area.

"If you're 20 years old, you're looking at rates that are going to be higher than where you're at today - significantly. If you're 60, their rates are not going to be changing as much as a 20-year-old would. Region to region, there's some big differences region to region," J.P Wieske, the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance Public Information Officer, said.

The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance released the numbers.

They acknowledge the numbers don't include the several subsidies that will be available to low-income people.

The office also says specific rates for consumers will vary widely.

Even so, some groups are upset with the release.

They see it as a scare tactic for Wisconsinites.

"Right before they're about to do 11 town hall meetings, the day they start them, they release this intentionally confusing press release with not even real rates, just a weird comparison we can't actually confirm or deny," said Citizen Action of Wisconsin Healthcare Organizer Kevin Kane.

One of those town hall meetings was Tuesday in Rhinelander.

The federal government will administer Wisconsin's health insurance exchange.

But Wisconsin officials tried to help people understand the Affordable Care Act changes better.

"The (Affordable Care Act) is complicated. It's very difficult for a lot of people to understand what's going on. We wanted to go around the state and help them understand how all of these insurance changes are going to affect them," Wieske said.

The 11 sessions include stops Tuesday through Friday across the state.

They also presented for audiences and took questions in Wausau, Eau Claire, and La Crosse Tuesday.

See the links below for the Walker administration release and the response from Citizen Action of Wisconsin.

Related Weblinks:
Walker administration: plans under health insurance exchange could be costly
Citizen Action of Wisconsin refutes administration numbers

Story By: Ben Meyer

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 IN OTHER NEWS
Record breaking snowfall knocks the power out Submitted: 04/17/2014

RHINELANDER - Our record breaking snow storm left more than 6,000 people across the Northwoods without power.

WPS had to rely on 20 extra crews from Green Bay, Wausau and Menominee to get the job done.

But getting to the outages was a challenge.

A representative for WPS says workers are expected even more outages to be reported.

"Not all of the back roads are plowed yet and that's where a lot of outages are located," said Leah Van Zile, WPS Community Relations leader. "Throughout the day as the temperatures warm, we expect to receive additional calls due to the unloading of snow off of the tree branches."

Eagle River had one of the highest number of customers affected by the outages.

Representatives for WPS say this was one of the hardest winters they've had to deal with.

"We've had some really really severe wind chills which has really made the temperatures below zero. Typically, only in emergencies do we work in those conditions," said Van Zile. "But pretty much any other time, whether it's a rain storm, a snow storm, a wind storm, our guys are out there working, getting that power back on."

The number of outages dropped below 4,000 since earlier today.

If you're still without power to call 1800-450-7240.

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Rhinelander food pantry volunteers Submitted: 04/17/2014

RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander Area Food Pantry relies heavily on volunteers. Here is a look inside the operation.

(Click the video to watch)

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Asian Lady Beetles come out after winteringSubmitted: 04/17/2014

ACROSS THE NORTHWOODS - Do bugs seem to be everywhere in your home, even though there's snow outside? One type of bug in Wisconsin spends the winter inside our houses! They look like Lady Bugs, but they are actually not native to this country.

"They're actually called a multi-colored Asian Lady Beetle. They can be anywhere from a pale yellow to a darker orange and they have black spots on them but you'll see some that don't have spots," says Kerri Ison, UW Oneida County Extension.

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New suit filed over gay marriage banSubmitted: 04/17/2014

MADISON - A same-sex couple wants the Wisconsin Supreme Court to strike down the state's gay marriage ban.

The couple filed a lawsuit directly with the high court Wednesday, bypassing the trial and appellate courts.

The lawsuit says the pair lives in Milwaukee County and married in San Diego.

They claim Wisconsin's gay marriage ban denies them federal rights afforded to opposite-sex married couples.

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Rare opportunity; old Rhinelander pictures shown Submitted: 04/16/2014

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RHINELANDER - You can find historical pictures of Rhinelander at a library or at a museum.

But there are some pictures people haven't see in more than a decade.

Those pictures were released Thursday.

The Rhinelander Historical Society showed old pictures of Rhinelander at ArtStart Thursday night.

More than 50 people saw what Rhinelander looked like in the late 1800's and early 1900's.

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Meet Minocqua's newly appointed Chief of Police Submitted: 04/16/2014

MINOCQUA - The Minocqua police department could have a new police chief in early May. David Jeager has been the acting chief of police since October.

He will undergo a background check, drug screening, and psychological exam before he is named the current chief of police. He would be replacing former Police Chief Andy Gee. Jeager is excited about what the future may bring.

"I'm extremely excited," says Minocqua acting Police Chief David Jeager. "I believe that this department has great potential and we have a great group of people working for this department,” says Jeager.

“We have great officers, we have great dispatchers, we have great administration.I feel that we can really provide a service to this community that's second to none,” says Jeager.

Jeager has worked in law enforcement for more than 20 years. He's worked at the Minocqua Police Department for 6 years.

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Four arrested in meth lab drug bust Submitted: 04/16/2014

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RHINELANDER - Police busted four people cooking meth in a Northwoods home Tuesday.

Oneida County Sheriff's Office say they found them in a home yesterday just northwest of Rhinelander.

Sheriffs deputies arrested Gerry Frederick, Thomas Franz, Scott Dumpprope and Carrie Steinmetz.

It happened on Trails End Road in the town of Pine Lake.

They found meth, weed and a meth lab in the house.

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