HHS outlines changes to health law's ACO regulation

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These include:

• Greater flexibility in eligibility to participate in the Shared Savings Program; 

• Multiple start dates in 2012;

• Establishment of a longer agreement period for those starting in 2012;

• Greater flexibility in the governance and legal structure of an ACO; 

• Simpler and more streamlined quality performance standards;

• Adjustments to the financial model to increase financial incentives to participate;

• Increased sharing caps;

• No downside risk and first-dollar sharing in Track 1; 

• Removal of the 25 percent withholding of shared savings; 

• Greater flexibility in timing for the evaluation of sharing savings (claims run-out reduced to three months); 

• Greater flexibility in antitrust review; 

• Greater flexibility in timing for repayment of losses; and 

• Additional options for participation of Federally Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Clinics.

Healthwatch will be updating this story as more details and reactions trickle in throughout the day, so please stay tuned.