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
Statewide tornado drillSubmitted: 04/24/2014

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RHINELANDER - There was no severe weather Thursday, but sirens across the Northwoods were blaring at about 1:45 pm on Thursday.

That's because the National Weather Service held a statewide tornado drill.

It was part of their severe weather awareness week, and Oneida County took part in the drill.

"The sirens are only set off for warnings, in the city of Rhinelander, it's only going to be a Severe Thunderstorm Warning that is affecting the city area," said Oneida County Emergency Management Director Ken Kortenhof. "It's also going to be set off for a Tornado Warning affecting the area."

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UPDATE: Police believe they made right choice in Nerf gun ticketsSubmitted: 04/24/2014

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WAUSAU - UPDATE: 5:52pm 4/24/2014

Police believe they made the right choice handling a report of gunmen near a high school in Wausau Tuesday night.

They found out the gunmen were actually six kids playing a game with toy Nerf guns.

Police eventually ended up giving the high school seniors disorderly conduct tickets.

Some people thought the tickets were excessive, but in a press release in released Thursday by the Wausau Police Department said they "believed there was a serious, potentially life threatening situation".

Someone called the Wausau police around 9:45 p.m. Tuesday.

The person said there were people pointing guns at other people in a car.

Police say they handled the situation different than a traffic stop because of the seriousness of the call.

After police got all the seniors out of the car, they saw the nerf guns.

The teens got the disorderly conduct citations because police say they caused a disruption in the neighborhood.

Leaders at Wausau West High School said in a statement that there's "potential in a game like this for negative consequences."

Some of the students have also been placed on athletic probation.

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Six kids got tickets after a battle using toy Nerf guns in Wausau.

Police issued disorderly conduct citations to the high school seniors.

Some residents of Wausau called police when they saw the young people pointing a gun at a car Tuesday night.

But, it was only a toy Nerf gun that shoots foam bullets.

Wausau West High School officials have also placed some students on athletic probation.

(Copyright 2014 Associated Press - All Rights Reserved)

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Dane County judge to hear Planned Parenthood lawsuitSubmitted: 04/24/2014

MADISON - A Dane County judge is set to hear arguments in a lawsuit challenging a 2012 law that sets out conditions for abortions.

The law requires a doctor to determine whether the woman's consent is voluntary and inform the woman of domestic abuse services if he or she suspects the woman is being coerced. The law also requires doctors to perform a physical exam before they can prescribe abortion-inducting drugs and be in the room when the drugs are given to the woman.

Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit in February 2013 arguing the law is unconstitutionally vague. The organization argues its unclear how doctors should determine voluntary consent and whether doctors need to be present when drugs are dispensed or administered.

Judge Richard Niess is set to hear arguments Thursday morning.

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Duffy might have used earmark to help pay for Northwoods water main breaks, if he couldSubmitted: 04/24/2014

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NORTHWOODS - Water main breaks from this harsh winter will cost Northwoods communities millions of dollars.

The U.S. Congress might want to help.

Under old rules, northern Wisconsin Congressman Sean Duffy (R-Weston) might have tried to get direct federal money to help pay for repairs.

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Couple facing charges for keeping and selling prescription drugsSubmitted: 04/24/2014

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LAC DU FLAMBEAU - A married couple from Lac Du Flambeau face a total of nine charges in connection to keeping and selling prescription drugs.

They could spend more than 30 years in federal prison if convicted of maximum sentences, according to a Department of Justice press release.

Charlie Sunn Meshigaud, 25, and Andrew Meshigaud, 28, face charges in federal court.

Police believe the two kept and planned on selling Oxycodone between January and June 2013.

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All the deliciousness, one location Submitted: 04/24/2014

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MINOCQUA - People can find some of the best tasting food in the Northwoods.

But it's tough trying all of the different types of restaurants in a community all at once.

Thursday that was possible.

The Minocqua Chamber of Commerce hosted their 7th annual Taste of the North.

It was started by an ambassador from the chamber who passed away.

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WisDOT leaders hopeful for increase in Northwoods railSubmitted: 04/24/2014

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ACROSS THE NORTHWOODS - Railroads give businesses a chance to move loads of material for a low cost. Loggers could use rail as an alternative to trucking material, but many businesses donít get that opportunity in the Northwoods anymore.

Canadian National bought rail in the Northwoods about a decade ago. They have cut back service drastically since then.

Some counties haven't seen train travel in years, which hurts business. Now, those businesses want to reestablish rail service.

In response, a group of counties in Northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan formed the Northwoods Rail Transit Commission.

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