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Governor's administration predicts some health insurance rates will skyrocket under Affordable Care Act; opposition groups call numbers Submitted: 09/03/2013
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com

Governor's administration predicts some health insurance rates will skyrocket under Affordable Care Act; opposition groups call numbers
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

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MERRILL - When you live to be 100, you often often outlive your friends and even family members.

Lenore Ehlert, from Merrill, turned 100 years old on Wednesday.

"Well, actually, it doesn't feel much different, it's just another day," said Ehlert.

While celebrating that milestone, she found herself thinking of her husband who she lost 65 years ago.

Her husband, Merrill Police Captain, Elmer Krueger was shot and killed while on duty in July of 1952.

"July 19th and he died about three days later," said Ehlert.

Records from that time show an officer's death didn't lead to weeks of ceremonies and salutes like it does now.

"After the funeral, everything was just kind of forgotten," said Ehlert.

But decades later, it's not all forgotten. Merrill police officers, members of the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office and other first responders were all at the party to show that they were bonded for life after the tragedy years ago.

"It really is truly, that Lenore is part of our family," said Michael Caylor with the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office.

In addition to law enforcement, Governor Scott Walker, Congressman Sean Duffy and Attorney General Brad Schimel all wrote Lenore letters wishing her a happy birthday.

"It's quite an honor and I know part of it is for my husband and his memory," said Ehlert.

Elmer's memory was seen all throughout Lenore's special day.

"Know that you're part of the law enforcement family. Elmer was a brother, most of us didn't know him, but he's a brother nonetheless," said Lincoln County Sheriff, Jeff Jaeger.

She was surrounded by friends and family helping her celebrate her 100 years.

"If we're all to live as old and to be as loved as yourself, what a wonderful world this is going to be," said Caylor.

When asked for advice on how to live to be 100, Lenore said to keep your mind and body active, and to eat good food.

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