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Published October 12, 2009, 09:13 AM

Minnesota Grants Fund Initiatives in Health Care

State health officials are predicting that a $47 million grant program that's funding dozens of smaller efforts around Minnesota will save nearly $2 billion in health care costs.

State health officials are predicting that a $47 million grant program that's funding dozens of smaller efforts around Minnesota will save nearly $2 billion in health care costs.

It's called the Statewide Health Improvement Program, or SHIP, and state health economist Julie Sonier says her office figures it will result in Minnesota having about 270,000 fewer smokers and 465,000 fewer obese or overweight people by 2015.

The program is unusual in that it funds dozens of different approaches in 86 counties. All are focused on getting people to stop smoking, get more exercise or eat better.

One such approach are walking school buses. That's when a parent or volunteer leads a group of neighborhood children to school. The kids get some exercise while the volunteers keep them safe.

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