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John Fleming named health IT secretary at HHS, but what does that mean for ONC?

Fleming, like his new boss HHS Secretary Tom Price, has supported delaying Stage 3 of meaningful use.

Congressman John Fleming speaking at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. (<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/5854820337">Gage Skidmore</a>)Congressman John Fleming speaking at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Gage Skidmore)

Former Louisiana Rep. John Fleming has been named deputy assistant secretary for health technology at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, according to published reports. But his appointment to this new position is causing confusion over whether this replaces the Office of National Coordinator for Health IT.

"They may be reorganizing," Fleming, told Politico Tuesday morning.

Fleming, a former member of the Doctors Congress and the tea party-backed Freedom Caucus, recently lost an election for one of the state's U.S. Senate seats.

[Also: Seema Verma's first order of business: Boosting the Republican healthcare bill]

Like the ONC role, Fleming said as secretary for health technology he will work on issues and regulations tied to technology and the practice of medicine.

"It's clear there's a lot of work to do, and they're anxious to get somebody in place and start activating this," he told NOLA.com.

The appointment also raises new questions about the state of existing regulations. For example, Fleming, like his new boss HHS Secretary Tom Price, has supported delaying Stage 3 of meaningful use. Fleming has also supported softening MACRA, especially when it comes to reporting requirements. MACRA, which took effect in January, replaced meaningful use for physicians.

Twitter: @HenryPowderly
Contact the author: henry.powderly@himssmedia.com