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Fed health changes may end up costing state

Minnesota leaders are bracing for a fiscal fallout as federal policymakers debate health-care reform proposals costing $1 trillion.

Most state governments, including Minnesota, faced huge deficits as they wrote new budgets this year. If major new federal health-care programs are implemented, it appears the states will be responsible for paying for a wide range of items, such as unemployment insurance for workers laid off due to higher employer health costs and running new health programs.

"It is probably the worst time to implement," the University of Minnesota's Lynn Blewett told a state Senate health committee Tuesday, adding that the state role in a new health care system "could be substantial."

Added Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmount: "I'm very nervous about what it is going to do to Minnesota."

Blewett said that despite extensive debate in Washington and, during the August congressional recess, heated town hall meetings back home on the subject, no one knows how much it will cost the state to implement federal health-care reform. And, she said, there "does not appear to be a lot of state input" being sought by Congress.