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State senator's decision to stop federal aid upsets Dayton

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ST. PAUL -- Gov. Mark Dayton says a single state senator is preventing Minnesotans from receiving $25 million in health care.

Dayton this morning criticized Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, for blocking the state from getting federal funds for programs ranging from regulating water wells to those that would keep elderly Minnesotans in their homes longer.

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The Democratic governor called Hann's action "undemocratic and unconscionable."

Hann had no immediate comment.

The senator is a member of the Legislative Advisory Commission and requested more information about some federal programs, a request that under state law stopped the state from receiving the federal money. Dayton administration officials are preparing a new request to Washington that they hope will either get the commission's approval or at least not produce an objection.

Dayton and his commissioners said thousands of Minnesota could lose health assistance in the next five years, including:

-- Those who could benefit from $18 million in aid to people with chronic diseases.

-- Children who could receive cancer diagnosis quicker.

-- More than a million Minnesotans who use private wells for drinking water; a federal program provides money to manage the wells.

-- Senior citizens who could be identified as having dementia earlier and speed treatment.

-- Elderly Minnesotans who could remain in their homes longer rather than going to facilities such as nursing homes.

Dayton's commissioners said none of the federal programs would require added state money, and when the programs end there would be no need for the state to continue the programs.

Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson said she would expect the federal programs to reduce state spending in the long term because they would result in healthier Minnesotans that would not require as much state health aid.

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Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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