- A former Louisiana congressman has accepted a position within the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) that could impact the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).
According to NOLA.com, John Fleming, Jr, MD, will serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health Technology for the Trump Administration pending an official start date. Fleming served in the House of Representatives (R-LA) from 2009 to 2017. Fleming failed at a recent bid for an open Senate seat in the state in 2016.
The appointment comes after Fleming reached out to former representative and current HHS Secretary Tom Price, MD, following the latter’s appointment to head up the federal agency, Richard Rainey reported. In the role which does not require Senate confirmation, Fleming will report directly to Secretary Price.
Fleming indicate that his role would focus on policymaking to encourage physician technology use, such as health data exchange, usability, and incentives to that end.
"I just want to be a part of taking down the barriers that are preventing innovation," he told NOLA.com.
How this appointment will impact ONC is unclear. In comments to Politico, Fleming revealed that he was interviewing to become the next National Coordinator.
“I think it’s the same or a similar position,” he told the news outlet. “I really don’t know.”
As for what the future holds for that division of HHS, Fleming could only speculate. “They may be reorganizing,” he added. “But that’s purely speculation. No one from HHS has told me that.”
As a co-chair of the GAP Doctors Cause, Fleming was one of 18 House members who urged the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to simplify the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) in the Quality Payment Program as part of MACRA implementation.