Maine will receive an estimated $26 million in Medicare funding over three years to support a health care reform experiment that began this year in doctors’ offices around the state, Gov. Baldacci announced today.

Maine has been named one of eight states to participate in a demonstration project to evaluate whether doctors and other health professionals can improve quality and lower costs by working together more closely and changing the way they bill insurance companies. The value of the federal support is estimated to be $26 million to $28 million.

The announcement means Medicare will pay higher up-front fees to more than 20 primary care practices participating in the study. The leaders of the effort in Maine expect that more coordinated and comprehensive primary care – a model known as the patient-centered medical home – will reduce costs down the road by avoiding hospitalizations and medical complications.

“This award helps Maine build on great work already under way to improve how health care is delivered and paid for,” Baldacci said in a written statement.

Maine’s project, the Multi-Payer Advanced Primary Care Practice Demonstration, is led by the Dirigo Health Agency’s Maine Quality Forum. It also is supported by MaineCare, Quality Counts and the Maine Health Management Coalition.

Maine’s pilot program began in January 2010 in 22 physician practices across the state. The practices are paid to improve primary health care delivery by rewarding value instead of volume. Until now, the effort has been funded by MaineCare, private insurers and employers.

For more information, including a list of the 22 participating practices in the state, go to