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.
MERRILL - For 32 years Battalion Chief Mike Drury walked into the Merrill Fire Department ready to save lives. Friday he walked out of the department for the last time to start the new phase of his life. "It goes fast it goes really fast," said Drury. Drury was about 18 -years -old when he walked into the Merrill Fire Department for the first time. "When you're 18, 19,20 years old and you're looking at 50 something years old you think you're never going to get there," said Drury.
Drury is one of 184 firefighters to ever work full time with the city of Merrill. "As a firefighter they spend a lot of time at the fire house so they miss a lot of things," said Drury's daughter Cassi. After 32 years of missing birthdays, holidays and family time Drury was ready for a change. "I realized I had enough this is a young man's job," said Drury. Friday afternoon Drury said goodbye to a room of men who merged and became family. "Not having that is a little scary I know they'll always be our family but it's hard to leave," said Cassi. Cassi watched her dad rush off to help his community since the day she was born. "It's scary because you hear about the times things don't go right or the times fire fighters don't come home," said Cassi.
RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander couple thought they were empty nesters. However, an experience volunteering made them open their doors back up to kids who need a temporary home. The Zoerb's adult children moved out years ago. But at any moment they could get a call from social services that make them bring out their parenting skills for another round. Rick and Danielle Zoerb work together as realtors putting people in homes that are the perfect fit. However, the husband and wife know their home can be a good fit for others too. "There's no reason for kids to have to fall through the cracks," said Dani. Rick met a child at a mentorship program a few years ago. It was a meeting that opened a new door for him and his wife. "There was no hesitation on our part when we felt the situation was deteriorating for this young boy," said Rick.
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