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With the U.S. Supreme Court to rule this week or next on national health care reform, Connecticut officials are holding their collective breath, waiting to see if they must choose between cutting health care benefits for the poor and spending more state money to replace the hundreds of millions in federal dollars that will vanish.

The conversion to LIA immediately gave Connecticut an extra $53 million in federal reimbursement funds.

And under the patient protection act, that program would get a huge infusion of federal aid 12 months from now.

In the state fiscal year that begins July 1, 2013, federal reimbursement would jump to 90 percent.

But the program already is budgeted at more than $460 million for the fiscal year that begins next month. Even if costs were to remain flat in 2013-14, the difference between 90 percent and 50 percent federal reimbursement is nearly $185 million.

And while federal reimbursement under the patient protection act gradually shrinks from 90 percent back to 50 percent in subsequent years, Connecticut could lose millions of additional federal dollars after 2013-14 if the Supreme Court strikes down that portion of the law.

Neither Harp nor any of the other state officials interviewed by The Mirror tried to predict how the court might rule.

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