ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — State officials say they’ve saved nearly $650 million by tweaking its subsidized health care programs.

Minnesota contracts with health plans to cover low-income residents in public programs like MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance, which is Minnesota’s version of Medicaid. Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson announced Tuesday that the state saved about $450 million by putting those contracts up for competitive bidding.

The state is also getting a $200 million windfall from health plans because new enrollees in those programs were healthier than the plans expected. That means they cost less to cover.

Some of the extra cash needs to go to the federal government. But the state’s $250 million share will beef up an expected budget surplus that lawmakers hope to tap for tax cuts and transportation fixes.

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