The Obama administration relaxed rules Thursday to reward health care providers who band together to improve quality of care.

The rules for Accountable Care Organizations – health care cooperatives that include doctors, clinics and hospitals – would require participants to take responsibility for managing the care of at least 5,000 Medicare patients.

The administration released draft rules in March that included 65 quality measures. The new rules track 33.

If the partnership is able to improve care while reducing cost for the patients, the providers could share in the savings with the Medicare program.

The ACO regulation, a part of the health care law signed by President Obama in March 2010, is supposed to save taxpayers billions of dollars through better coordination of care and replacing the fragmented system where patients are tossed around between doctors and hospitals with little to no communication.