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The Associated Press August 31, 2010, 12:23PM ET

Governor vows to limit Minn. in fed health reform

Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Tuesday that he aims to keep Minnesota from participating in the federal health care overhaul during his final four months in office.

The likely Republican presidential candidate said the health care law -- one of President Barack Obama's top initiatives -- is "a misguided piece of legislation" that puts states on the wrong path and will drive up costs.

"Anything that I can do to slow down, limit or negate Obamacare, I'm going to try to do it within reason," Pawlenty said after a veterans event in St. Paul.

Pawlenty said he plans to issue executive orders as soon as Tuesday outlining 15 categories where state agencies should avoid seeking federal grants under the new law. One of the categories is sex education, where he rejected an $850,000 grant on Monday. He declined to elaborate on the other categories until his office issues the directives.

Though he declined the sex-education money, he did approve an application for abstinence-only funding that would require the state to put up matching money.

The governor said he won't pull grant applications that have already been submitted or turn down federal cash in categories that fit with the direction that Minnesota has taken in health care policy. He added that his successor could go after some of the rejected money "if that's consistent with what they think is wise."

Pawlenty said he can't keep Minnesota from participating in the health care law when it is fully implemented in 2014, but he hopes that won't happen.

"We're not going to go to that point easily and without protest and without trying to change it," he said.

Pawlenty is stepping down when his second term as governor ends in January. He has said he will announce his future plans early next year.

He also must decide by mid-September whether to take about $240 million in extra federal help for Medicaid health care costs. Pawlenty said he determined that taking the cash wouldn't force Minnesota to keep up current levels of health care spending beyond next June.

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