Washington (CNN) -- A new government program announced Monday will award up to $1 billion in grants for creative ideas to save money on health care.
Called the Health Care Innovation Challenge, the program funded by the health care reform bill passed in 2010 will focus on projects that can quickly hire and train workers, said a statement from the Department of Health and Human Services.
"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," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
According to the statement, the program will award grants in March 2012 to applicants "who will implement the most compelling new ideas to deliver better health, improved care and lower costs to people enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, particularly those with the highest health care needs."
Projects that can begin within six months will be chosen, with priority for those that include new hiring and training, the statement said.
The three-year grants are expected to range from $1 million to $30 million, with each applicant "evaluated and monitored for measurable improvements in quality of care and savings generated."
Dr. Donald Berwick, the administrator for the agency that oversees the Medicare and Medicaid government-run health care programs for disabled, poor and elderly Americans, said the new program seeks innovative solutions to health care challenges at the "ground level."
He cited examples of such creative programs, such as a church group that offers volunteers to help senior citizens get the care they need while still living at home.
"By putting more programs like this in place and more 'boots on the ground,' these types of programs can truly transform our health care system," Berwick said.
CNN's Dan Lothian contributed to this report.