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Fed carefully eyeing U.S. healthcare costs: Lacker

LYNCHBURG Va. (Reuters) - U.S. healthcare costs are a growing issue for businesses across the country, with the Federal Reserve keeping close tabs on the issue, a top Fed official said on Thursday.

Speaking in a question and answer session after a speech to business leaders in Lynchburg, Virginia, Richmond Federal Reserve Bank President Jeffrey Lacker said that healthcare costs are a growing concern.

"A lot of small businesses have been spending an inordinate amount of time trying to figure (out) a strategy for provisions that took effect at the beginning of this year," Lacker said.

Lacker also said he supported maintaining interest rates at current levels, though he added that it would be a mistake to let inflation get out of control before raising rates.

(Reporting by Michael Flaherty; Editing by Paul Simao)

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