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Published January 24, 2011, 11:11 AM

Dayton rejects Bachmann request to rip up order joining health care program

ST. PAUL - U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann asked Gov. Mark Dayton to rip up an order he signed just after taking office this month joining a federal health care program, but the Democratic governor Monday rejected the request as presidential politics.

By: Don Davis, Forum News Service, INFORUM

ST. PAUL - U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann asked Gov. Mark Dayton to rip up an order he signed just after taking office this month joining a federal health care program, but the Democratic governor Monday rejected the request as presidential politics.

The order Dayton signed the first week of January enrolls Minnesota in an expanded Medicaid program known in Minnesota as Medical Assistance. Dayton said more Minnesotans will be served by the program, and hospitals, doctors and other health care providers will benefit.

Bachmann and Republican state legislators this morning asked that Dayton overturn his earlier decision. They say the Dayton move will cost the state more, although Dayton denied that.

"When you are in a deep financial hole, stop digging," Bachmann said. "All around the country, we are seeing Obamacare driving up health care costs."

New federal health care programs, shepherded by President Barack Obama, are kicking in over a several years.

Sen. Gretchen Hoffman, R-Vergas, said her district near North Dakota will be hurt by the expanded health plan because it gives better benefits, which will attract people from other states to move to Minnesota.

"People are going to stream to Minnesota," she said.

Sen. Ted Lillie, R-Lake Elmo, said the Obama-supported health care reform interferes with a patient's rights.

"It is between the patient and the provider," Lillie said of how health care should be handled.

Dayton said Bachmann is just trying to score points in a run for president. He accused her of "playing presidential politics" with Minnesotans who need health care assistance.

The Medical Assistance expansion Dayton ordered provides health-care payments to the poor and disabled.

Bachmann, 54, is in the midst of several high-profile appearances.

After indicating that she is not ruling out a 2012 presidential run, on Friday she appeared in the country's first presidential caucus state, Iowa. More than 50 journalists covered her speech, in which she refused to say how seriously she was looking at a White House campaign.

On Saturday she appeared at an anti-abortion rally on the Minnesota Capitol steps. On Tuesday, she takes the rare move to deliver her own national rebuttal to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address. It will be streamed live at www.teapartyexpress.org.

Bachmann served in the Minnesota Senate before moving to the U.S. House in 2007. Since arriving in Washington, she has become a spokeswoman for the conservative and libertarian movements, such as the Tea Party.

She grew up in the northern Twin Cities area and now lives in Stillwater. Her congressional district stretches from Stillwater on the east to St. Cloud on the west, taking in independence-minded northern Twin Cities suburbs.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

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