- HHS Secretary Tom Price named former Louisiana congressman John Fleming to be deputy assistant secretary for health technology, raising questions about the future of the Office of National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), Healthcare Finance News reports.
- President Donald Trump’s budget proposal makes no mention of ONC but Fleming told Politico that, “They may be reorganizing.”
- In his new post, Fleming said he will work on issues related to technology and the practice of medicine, which includes pushing for policies that encourage physician use of technology and removing regulatory barriers, according to the Times-Picayune.
Among other questions the announcement raises is the status of current regulations. Like his new boss, Fleming has supported delaying Stage 3 of meaningful use and has also favored scaling back MACRA, particularly the reporting requirements.
Since its creation in 2004, ONC has led efforts to establish a nationwide interoperable health information system. Robert Kolodner, the third national coordinator, worked to enhance patient privacy protections in health IT systems and applications, while his successor, David Blumenthal, designed CMS’s EHR Incentive Program, which ushered in meaningful use. Under Karen DeSalvo’s watch, ONC released a nationwide interoperability roadmap and began to simplify standards for sharing health information.
Recent efforts at ONC have focused on moving the interoperability needle forward via federally recognized standards, changes in how payments are made and received and working with HHS’ Office for Civil Rights on sharing health data.
As deputy assistant secretary for health technology, Fleming does not require Senate confirmation.