Sebelius: $1 Billion in Grants Will Improve Health, Lower Costs, While ‘Sparking’ the Economy

By Penny Starr | November 15, 2011 | 2:31 AM EST

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said on Nov. 14, 2011 that $1 billion in health care grants were a way of 'sparking' the U.S. economy. ( Starr)

( – The $1 billion in competitive grants that the Department of Health and Human Services will award next year will provide Americans with better health and lower health care costs, while at the same time “sparking” the national economy, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Monday.

“Efforts like these to improve the health of communities and reduce cost while sparking the economy are a priority of the Obama administration,” Sebelius said at a press conference launching the Health Care Innovation Challenge program.

The grants are open to both private and public organizations, including clinicians, health systems, private and public payers, faith-based institutions, community-based organizations and local governments.

The money will be awarded for innovations that help patients enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program Insurance Program (CHIP).

Sebelius said the grants would be distributed over a three-year period and will range from $1 million to $30 million. They represent “the latest steps we’re taking toward fulfilling the promise of the Affordable Care Act, which is better health, better care and lower cost for all Americans,” she said.

Medicare/Medicaid Administrator Donald Berwick (Penny Starr/

Donald Berwick, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said the grants would expand the number of innovations that are already helping people around the country and can “truly transform our health care system.”

Sebelius said “tough economic times” call for this kind of government spending.

“In these tough economics times many lack the funds to implement their vision,” she said. “Today’s grants are just the boost these projects need to get off the ground.’

The program was unveiled on the same day as the Supreme Court announced that it will rule on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act by next June, although Sebelius said the launch was not planned to coincide with the announcement.