Obama Health Care Law Funds $1B Push for ‘Innovation,’ Jobs

The Obama administration today rolled out a new billion-dollar initiative that will reward the “most compelling new ideas” for lowering costs and improving care of Medicare and Medicaid patients with lucrative federal grants.

The  Health Care Innovation Challenge, to be run by the Department of Health and Human Services, will provide between $1 million and $30 million over three years to individual organizations or coalitions that develop sustainable, new approaches to boosting health care quality and efficiency.

Funding for the program was included as part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, parts of which are now slated for a review by the Supreme Court.

Officials cast the announcement as part of President Obama’s “We Can’t Wait” campaign to help the economy, independent of congressional action, since special consideration will be given to proposals that “rapidly hire, train and deploy health care workers.”

“We’ve taken incredible steps to reduce health care costs and improve care, but we can’t wait to do more,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a statement. “Both public and private community organizations around the country are finding innovative solutions to improve our health care system, and the Health Care Innovation Challenge will help jump-start these efforts.”

Sebelius said only projects that can begin within six months will be eligible to receive funds.  A final list of sponsored projects will be announced in March.

While the agency says it will closely monitor grantees’ progress on improving care and measure overall savings yielded to taxpayers, Republican critics of the program called it a “$1 billion experiment.”

“On the day the Supreme Court decided to review the constitutionality of ‘Obamacare,’ the president is asking for another $1 billion in taxpayer dollars to pay for another health care experiment that will continue taking us in the wrong direction,” said RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski in a statement. “We already spent $2.6 trillion on his job-killing health care bill. Another $1 billion Executive Order is just more words for a president more interested in campaign talking points than creating jobs.”