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Doctors prepare an operating room. Photo: Arne Dedert/picture alliance via Getty Images

The Trump administration on Friday eased up on groups of hospitals and doctors called "accountable care organizations," which were created by the Affordable Care Act, in a regulation that will allow those companies to retain more money if they hold Medicare costs down and keep patient quality high.

The bottom line: The agency that oversees Medicare is still requiring these networks to take on more financial risk. But it's now backpedaling from some of the proposed rules, and as a result, it expects fewer hospitals and doctors to leave the program.

The details: Next year, the federal government will still push groups of hospitals and doctors to both keep savings from lower Medicare spending and pay out financial penalties back to the government if they spend above Medicare's targets.

  • However, some groups can still apply to only keep savings, and the amount of savings those groups can retain (40%) will be larger than what was proposed (25%).
  • Companies will also have an extra year before they have to switch to a program that includes penalties.
  • Medicare expects the rule will save the federal government $2.9 billion over the next 10 years.

Yes, but: Accountable care organizations are saving money, but the savings are very low relative to the size of what Medicare spends every year.

Go deeper: Today's full 957-page rule.

Go deeper

Updated 21 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Report: Pentagon watchdog finds Ronny Jackson drank on duty and harassed staff

Rep. Ronny Jackson walking through the Canon Tunnel to the U.S. Capitol in January. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) allegedly made "sexual and denigrating" comments about a female staffer, drank alcohol and took sleeping medication while working as White House physician, according to an official report obtained by CNN Tuesday night.

Driving the news: The Department of Defense inspector general's report stems from a years-long investigation. Jackson has called the allegations "false and fabricated."

DOJ pressed to enforce Al Jazeera foreign agent ruling

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Justice Department is being pressed to enforce its own demand that the U.S. arm of Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera register as a foreign agent.

Why it matters: The launch of Al Jazeera's new right-of-center U.S. media venture, Rightly, has refocused attention on the media company's alleged links to Doha, and DOJ's efforts to crack down on media outlets viewed as foreign interest mouthpieces.

Poll: Immigration is America's most-polarizing issue

Data: The American Aspirations Index/Populace; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Immigration was found to be the most polarizing issue in America based on new polling from Populace.

Why it matters: Americans have surprisingly similar priorities for the U.S., but immigration stands out as one of the few issues with clear partisan differences. It underscores the challenge for advocates and lawmakers hoping to pass immigration reform in the coming weeks amid narrow margins in Congress.