Feds OK Dayton-backed Medicaid expansion

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Federal officials have certified Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton's request to access federal money to expand a health program for the poor beginning March 1.

Dayton's office on Thursday announced the approval by the U.S. Department of Human Services. Dayton signed an order during his first week in office that cleared the way.

The move is expected to provide broader coverage for up to 95,000 people, most of whom are now part of two state-funded health care programs.

Notices to those affected have started going out and public workers are getting transition guides.

Republican leaders are critical of the change, saying it locks Minnesota into matching dollars it can't afford to put up. Dayton has said he would veto legislation reversing his executive order.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)