AUGUSTA (AP) – The state’s Dirigo Health program received a major boost Thursday when the Maine Health Access Foundation provided a grant of nearly $887,133 to implement the nation’s most far-reaching state program to provide health care access to everyone.

Gov. John Baldacci, who announced the grant, said it will help his administration implement Dirigo during its critical start-up phase.

“As we create a system with access to coverage, lower costs and improved quality of care, investments like these testify to how much outside organizations recognize the importance of our work,” Baldacci said.

Baldacci proposed the program, which was authorized nearly a year ago by the Legislature. Dirigo is now seeking bids from insurance companies interested in carrying out the public-private health program.

Trish Riley, director of the Governor’s Office of Health Policy and Finance, said the grant will be used in part to market and promote Dirigo Health throughout the state.

The Augusta-based Health Access Foundation is the state’s largest nonprofit health-care foundation, which was formed in 2000 when Maine Blue Cross-Blue Shield was sold to Anthem.

Since 2002, the foundation has awarded more than $10 million in grants to nearly 80 Maine organizations including state agencies, clinics and hospitals, said Wendy Wolf, its executive director.

AP-ES-05-13-04 1715EDT

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