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Minnesota: Projecting the GOP health plan’s statewide impact

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., center, stands with Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., right, and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., left, during a news conference on the American Health Care Act on Capitol Hill, March 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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It’s no secret that the repeal and replacement of Obamacare could have a significant impact both on those holding insurance and on the finances of states that have embraced the health care law. But over the last few months, few details had emerged on what that precise impact might be.

In an “Only on AP” story,St. Paul,Minnesota,statehouse reporter Kyle Potter provided one of the first concrete glimpses into the possible ramifications states envision,reporting that Minnesota officials were bracing for additional costs that could reach $6 billion by 2029 to maintain a low-income health care program that covers more than 900,000 state residents.

Potter wanted more specifics. He succeeded in getting his hands on a draft laying out the $6 billion figure and the reasoning behind it.

Potter’s interest was piqued when Minnesota’s health service commissioner testified before legislators in St. Paul about her concerns on the impact of changes to the Affordable Care Act.

What Potter wanted was more specifics. Learning that the state’s Department of Health and Human Services had done an analysis mapping out possible repercussions of a GOP plan under discussion,Potter worked his sources. He succeeded in getting his hands on a draft document laying out the $6 billion figure and the reasoning behind it. As Potter’s story explained,the figures illustrated the uncertainty and potential expense to states as members of Congress faced backlash at town halls over potential health care changes and governors from both parties expressed concern about changes to Medicaid.

The story scored prominent online play in the New York Times and Washington Post. In Minnesota,it fronted the St. Paul Pioneer Press and St. Cloud Times and was featured prominently by Minnesota Public Radio.

Tom Verdin,editor of the State Government Team, singled out the story as an “important NewsBreak,” calling it one of the few signs to date “of the concrete fiscal impact on the states of repeal-and-replace.”

For shedding much needed light on a story that could have implications for millions of Americans, Potter wins this week’s $300 Best of the States prize.

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