Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann joined GOP state legislators Monday morning in calling for Gov. Mark Dayton to cancel an expansion of Medicaid for 95,000 Minnesotans.
The expansion was allowed under the federal health care law. Dayton signed an executive order earlier this month to do it.
Bachmann, who represents Minnesota's 6th congressional district, said she and her fellow Republicans would block funding to implement the change.
"Right now, Gov. Dayton is wanting to commit Minnesota taxpayers to add even more welfare recipients to the welfare rolls at a very great cost," Bachmann said. "But it will be at a great cost for Minnesotans without necessarily money coming from the federal government to pay for those costs. This will be a very bad bargain for an already overburdened, overtaxed state."
The federal matching funds won't necessarily be available, Bachmann said. But DFL lawmakers who support the expansion say the money wasn't a problem.
"Minnesota taxpayers have been paying for the coverage of Minnesotans in MinnesotaCare and General Assistance Medical Care for years," said state Rep. Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul. "Because of our good work in Minnesota, we're going to be able to draw down federal matching funds. And the claim that the federal matching funds could somehow be blocked by the new Republican Congress is false."
Murphy said the money was already appropriated by Congress and that pulling back the funds would likely require an override of a presidential veto in both houses of Congress.
Dayton contends the federal government will pay for the expansion with almost no new cost to the state.
In response to Bachmann's contention, Dayton said his order would make Minnesota among the first to get more federal money for care already being provided by state hospitals and clinics.
Dayton said Bachmann was using the issue to raise her profile for a potential run for the White House.
"I think it is very unfortunate when a Minnesota politician is playing presidential politics with the citizens of our state," Dayton said. "And I think that kind of politicking is better taken to Iowa or New Hampshire."
Bachmann spoke at the GOP press conference in St. Paul Monday two days after delivering a campaign-style speech on taxes in Iowa. She was scheduled to host a closed-door constitutional seminar for members of Congress later Monday, featuring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Bachmann said state Republicans should consider extraordinary action to block Dayton's plan.