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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published January 25 2011

Bachmann blasts health care order

ST. PAUL – Gov. Mark Dayton claims presidential politics are behind U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s request that he rescind an executive order issued during his first week in office.

Bachmann said a federal health care program Dayton signed on to will cost the state.

“All across the country, we’re seeing that Obamacare is driving up health care costs,” the Minnesota Republican said. “Insurance premiums are rising. Bureaucrats are starting a process that will expand the list of minimum benefits insurance companies must offer.”

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

Bachmann, a potential presidential candidate, reminded Dayton that congressional Republicans are trying to overturn the federal reform passed last year.

“Yet here in Minnesota, Governor Dayton is unyielding in his desire to fully commit our state to it,” she said during a state Capitol news conference.

Dayton signed the order to enroll in an expanded Medicaid program known in Minnesota as Medical Assistance. Dayton said more poor and disabled Minnesotans will be served by the program, and hospitals, doctors and other health care providers will benefit.

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.

“She has a perfect right to run for president,” Dayton said, “but she should not be doing it at the expense of Minnesotans.”

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.

Bachmann and state Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, made vague references about the possibility of a lawsuit over the Dayton order. But they told reporters they are not now preparing a court challenge.

“That may be a possibility in the future,” Bachmann said.

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

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

On Saturday, she appeared at an anti-abortion rally on the Minnesota Capitol steps. Today, she will deliver her own response 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. She has become a spokeswoman for conservative and libertarian movements such as the tea party since arriving in Washington.

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 works for Forum Communications Co.