The head of the federal healthcare oversight body was a popular guest on Monitor Mondays.
Daniel Levinson, Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is stepping down from his post at the end of May, following nearly 15 years in his position as healthcare’s top cop.
The announcement was made on Tuesday by Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar. In a prepared statement on the HHS website, Azar described Levinson as a “valued friend and colleague,” noting that Levinson had been in federal service for more than three decades.
“Under Dan’s leadership, the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) has done tireless, invaluable work to protect program beneficiaries and taxpayer funds, improve the management and integrity of HHS programs, and respond to emerging challenges such as the ongoing opioid crisis,” Azar wrote. “In 2018, it was an honor to see OIG participate in another record-breaking Healthcare Fraud Takedown Day, charging defendants with schemes involving more than $2 billion in false billings. Dan should be proud of the results of his work as Inspector General, as should every member of OIG.”
Levinson was a popular guest on Monitor Mondays, according to RACmonitor publisher and longtime broadcast host Chuck Buck. Levinson appeared as a guest on seven different occasions, Buck recalled.
“Typically, Dan would be on our live broadcasts that originated from the annual Compliance Institute of the Health Care Compliance Association (HCCA),” Buck said. “He was very popular at those conferences and as a guest on our broadcasts.”
Buck added that during his first meeting with Levinson, the Inspector General memorably asked if he would simply call him “Dan.”
In his capacity as Inspector General, Levinson, a lawyer and a certified fraud examiner, was responsible for the management of more than 1,600 auditors, evaluators, investigators, and lawyers who oversee the integrity and efficiency of federal health and human services programs. He also had oversight authority over the more than 100 programs administered by HHS agencies, such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Administration for Children and Families, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The OIG budget for the 2020 fiscal year was projected to just eclipse $400 million – a tiny fraction of the nearly $1 trillion in annual HHS spending, which represents approximately a quarter of every federal dollar spent. The spending funds programs ranging from health insurance to clinical research and epidemiology, public health services, and education.
Levinson was also extremely active in other organizations, serving on the Executive Council of the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency and the governing body of the Health Care Fraud Prevention Partnership. In 2015, he was named a Senior Fellow of the Administrative Conference of the United States. Earlier, in 2011, President Obama appointed him to be a member of the Government Accountability and Transparency Board, and he was also a member of the Recovery Act Accountability and Transparency Board.
Levinson first entered federal service in 1983 as Deputy General Counsel of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, later serving as General Counsel of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. In 1986, President Reagan appointed him to be Chairman of the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, a bipartisan, quasi-judicial agency that adjudicates federal civilian personnel appeals. In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed Levinson to be Inspector General of the U.S. General Services Administration, and in 2005, Inspector General of HHS.
RACmonitor and Monitor Mondays contributors had no shortage of kind words for Levinson upon news of his pending departure from service.
“Mr. Levinson has consistently had a goal of open communication about OIG priorities, appearing at HCCA, and on the (Monitor Mondays) broadcast,” said healthcare attorney David Glaser in an email to RACmonitor. “I hope his replacement will be as transparent. While I don’t always agree with the OIG, I appreciate the open communication Mr. Levinson has encouraged.”
Nancy Beckley, a longtime Monitor Mondays fixture, fondly recalled Levinson joining broadcasts for distinctively unscripted interviews.
“It was always another ‘Dantastic’ Monday at the Compliance Institute when I interviewed Dan on Monitor Mondays following his keynote speech,” Beckley said. “(That’s) when he (would) generally reveal a new OIG initiative or a new document that was just published.”
Healthcare attorney Andrew Wachler, managing partner of Wachler and Associates and a longtime RACmonitor contributor, said he’d remember Levinson for his leadership qualities.
“Dan Levinson was a steady and consistent leader for the OIG during a time of significant change in the healthcare landscape,” Wachler told RACmonitor. “He was devoted to preserving the integrity of federal healthcare programs and committed to reducing and collecting payment errors. He often presented to the American Health Lawyers Association to help educate healthcare lawyers as to the accomplishments of the OIG for that year and their goals for the future. His steady leadership will be missed.”
Since its 1976 establishment, according to its website, OIG has been “at the forefront of the nation’s efforts to fight waste, fraud, and abuse in Medicare, Medicaid, and more than 100 other HHS programs.” OIG is the largest inspector general’s office in the federal government, with the majority of its resources going toward the oversight of Medicare and Medicaid.
“We carry out our mission using a multidisciplinary, collaborative approach, with each of our six components playing a vital role in government oversight; a nationwide network of audits, investigations, and evaluations results in timely information as well as cost-saving or policy recommendations for decision-makers and the public,” the OIG’s mission statement reads. “That network also assists in the development of cases for criminal, civil, and administrative enforcement. OIG (also) develops and distributes resources to assist the healthcare industry in its efforts to comply with the nation’s fraud and abuse laws, and to educate the public about fraudulent schemes so they can protect themselves and report suspicious activities.”
For more information about the HHS OIG, go online to https://oig.hhs.gov.