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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

32 mins ago - Health

Meta removes over 600 accounts linked to COVID disinformation effort by China

Facebook's corporate headquarters campus in Menlo Park, California. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

Meta announced Wednesday it has removed over 600 Facebook and Instagram accounts linked to a Chinese influence operation that claimed the U.S. was pressuring the World Health Organization (WHO) to blame COVID on China.

Why it matters: Though Meta said the network was unsuccessful, it marks yet another COVID disinformation campaign instigated by China in an effort to discredit the U.S.

Stacey Abrams launches second campaign for Georgia governor

Photo: Eze Amos/Getty Images

Stacey Abrams, voting rights activist and former 2018 candidate for Georgia governor, is running for the position again in 2022. Abrams would be the first Black female governor in the country.

Why it matters: Abrams caught national attention in 2018 by narrowly losing an election to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in a state held firmly by the GOP for nearly two decades.

First known U.S. case of Omicron variant identified in California

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during the daily briefing at the White House on Dec. 1. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The first known U.S. case of the Omicron variant was detected in California, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Wednesday.

Driving the news: The confirmed case was detected in a traveler returning from South Africa who was fully vaccinated and has mild symptoms, according to the CDC.