- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 2, 2014

RUTLAND, Vt. (AP) - Vermont awarded more than $2.6 million in grants to health care providers Wednesday in a push to cut costs and promote health care innovation across the state.

Gov. Peter Shumlin and Vermont Health Care Innovation Project leaders announced the eight grants in Rutland. The purpose of the grants is to cut health care costs by supporting projects that encourage collaboration between health care providers and patients.

“Our challenge is to put a stop to skyrocketing health care costs that are hammering Vermont businesses and families,” Shumlin said. “Through this grant program, we are supporting leaders who are working to do just that.”

Providers from Rutland to the Northeast Kingdom to Burlington received funds.

Among the recipients are:

-The Vermont Program for Quality in Health Care received $350,000 for a statewide partnership to improve surgical care.

-Bi-State Primary Care and HealthFirst received $400,000 each to develop provider networks that will increase care quality and reduce costs.

-The Vermont Medical Society Education and Research Foundation and the Fletcher Allen Health Care Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine received almost $549,000 to work on a statewide program to reduce what officials called “unnecessary and potentially harmful medical testing.”

The grants are funded through a program administered by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Innovation Center. In total, the federal centers granted Vermont $45 million over the next three years in support of the project.

The awards announced this week are the first round of sub-grants and there will be at least one more round during the next two years, said VHCIP chair Anya Rader Wallack.