Former Louisiana Representative named HHS’ Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health Technology

April 13, 2017

Uncertainty remains over the new administration’s plans to repeal and replace Obamacare, as well as their plans to change the reporting requirements for the Medicare Access and Chip Reauthorization Act (MACRA) legislation.

National Government Services has assembled a brief biography of one of the newest health care players to join U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price’s team— former Louisiana Representative John Fleming— who was recently named Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health Technology.

Fleming, 65, served four terms in Congress, elected as a Republican representing Louisiana’s 4th Congressional District before an unsuccessful run for Senate last year.

Fleming and former Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) are both physicians and have worked together in Congress. Both worked to find alternatives to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

In September 2013, Fleming cosponsored and introduced the Republican Study Committee’s American Health Care Reform Act, which proposed to repeal the ACA. He has spoken about the “skyrocketing costs” of health insurance premiums that resulted from the passage of Obamacare and potential consequences on our economy.

What could happen to MACRA reporting requirements and health care regulations

While Fleming supports the MACRA legislation passed in 2015, he has stated that its reporting requirements may pose some difficulty for doctors. Like Price, Fleming brings his years of experience as a provider and also feels a sense of responsibility to support the rights of providers. As former co-chair of the GOP Doctors Caucus, Fleming objected to the proposed rules to implement MACRA, including the approach to quality measures. In the past, he supported a delay in Stage 3 meaningful use and co-sponsored several bills to help ease the transition to the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision (ICD-10). Looking ahead, Price and Fleming could propose new suggestions or mandates for MACRA to reduce the administrative burden of reporting requirements on providers.

Additionally, Fleming’s role may influence how regulations are applied under any potential replacement health care law. According to the Times-Picayune, "…he said he sees his role as writing and championing policies that encourage more physicians to embrace technology, rather than view it as a mandated burden."

Recently, the media also reported that Fleming plans to work on policies that would encourage physicians to use technology in their medical practices, such as newer digital filing systems to enhance providers’ productivity.

As for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), media has speculated that Fleming’s appointment could mean a reorganization of the ONC.

In addition to his former leadership role on the GOP Doctors Caucus, Fleming’s caucus memberships also included the Republican Study Committee and the Tea Party Caucus. Fleming was the co-chair of the Congressional Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus and co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus.

Fleming’s medical background

Fleming attended medical school on a Navy scholarship. His residency was in family medicine, and he also trained at the Drug and Alcohol Treatment Unit. After serving six years a Medical Officer in the Navy, he moved to Minden, Louisiana, where he and his wife opened a medical practice.

Fleming received a certification from the American Board of Family Practice and joined the staff of the Minden Medical Center. He previously worked with chemically-dependent persons through the program called "New Beginnings" at the Minden Medical Center. He was chosen as the "Louisiana Family Practice Physician of the Year" in 2007.

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