Tommy Thompson added two more job titles last week, but he's not done.
"I'll be joining some boards," he says as he moved through an airport on his way to San Diego to "check out a company."
Thompson officially ended his four-year stint as HHS secretary less than two months ago, but since then he has taken on four jobs. In the last few weeks, he's experienced a whirlwind of courting from suitors eager to have Thompson attach his name to their company.
"I've had more offers than I could have anticipated," he says.
Last week, it was announced that Thompson would be joining consulting firm Deloitte & Touche, where he will be the chairman of its new Center for Health Care Management and Transformation. The announcement also said he'll be a partner with the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, where Thompson says he'll advise the company on its healthcare practice.
It was previously announced that Thompson will be working with Logistics Health, a La Crosse, Wis.-based company that provides medical readiness and homeland security services to private and government clients. Although Thompson says he'll be consulting for the company, a nearly 700-word news release on the company's Web site says he's the president.
In February, the Citizens' Commission to Protect the Truth, which runs an antismoking campaign for youth, announced that Thompson agreed to work for the commission. However, Thompson also downplayed that role, saying it was more "honorary" than anything else.
The companies haven't disclosed his salary or what benefits Thompson may get. But luckily for the former governor of Wisconsin, at age 63 he'll soon be eligible to take part in the Medicare prescription drug benefit that he helped develop.
The bulk of Thompson's time will be spent in Washington working with Deloitte and Akin Gump. Those posts will consume about 70% to 80% of his workweek. But the antismoking commission and Logistics Health shouldn't worry because Thompson says he doesn't work eight-hour days, more like 12 or 14. "I'm a workaholic," he adds.
Caught in the crossfire
HHS inspector general nominee Daniel Levinson is being held hostage by a rather unlikely perpetrator. That's Sen. Max Baucus, a usually mild-mannered Montana Democrat who has worked across the aisle on healthcare issues. But Baucus is angry, not at Levinson but at HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt, from whom Baucus wants answers about changes to health programs.
Leavitt earlier promised committee members information on the Medicare Modernization Act's drug discount card, transitional assistance and budget baselines for Medicare, Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program, but at deadline he hadn't provided them. President Bush recently announced $74 billion in Medicaid spending cuts from 2005 to 2014.
A Baucus staffer confirms the delay in Levinson's confirmation. "We don't have a ton of detail and need a better understanding for what's going on in the program," says the staffer, who asked not to be identified. "We want to know the state-by-state impact of these cuts on Medicaid programs. ... We don't think the secretary has refused the information, but we've asked and asked and never received it."
The staffer conceded that some of the information sought is politically sensitive but noted: "There's nothing unusual about this (tactic of delaying a confirmation)."
Judy Holtz, a spokeswoman for the inspector general's office, says the agency is unaware of any issues delaying the confirmation hearings relating to Levinson himself, which the Senate staffer confirms. "We support him," the staffer says.
Long lap for a laptop
There was no doubt some bloodletting was in store if a lost laptop computer belonging to the Blood Bank of Delmarva didn't find its way safely home last month. The computer, which was missing for five days after falling off the back of a truck traveling on a highway in Newark, Del., contained highly personal information about blood bank members and donors.
Chalk it up to good karma perhaps; this "lost dog" story ends as happily as "Lassie Come Home."
It was a Thursday morning, and the computer was on its way to a blood drive at the University of Delaware when it got loose. A motorist following behind decided to overtake the driver lest other things began to fall, but by the time they went back to the spot, the laptop was missing, says David Bonk, a blood bank spokesman. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to them, Ed Wenger, the owner of a carpentry and remodeling business in New Castle, Del., had pulled his vehicle over and picked it up. He took it home, but without any identifying information on it, he put it aside until he could figure out what to do with it.
The following Monday a friend of Wenger saw a news report about the missing computer on a TV newscast. He called the blood bank to let them know his friend had it. The laptop was returned to the blood bank's administrative headquarters in Christiana, Del., by Wenger and his friend that evening, looking no worse for the wear. The computer case was only a bit scuffed. "The laptop should be doing a Samsonite commercial," Bonk says.
The next morning the laptop was taken to the Delaware State Police High Tech Crimes Unit. After a thorough examination of the hard drive, software and database, detective Steve Whalen verified that no records had been accessed.
With that confirmation, Wenger was given a $5,000 reward at "the biggest news conference we ever had," Bonk says. Wenger's friend received a $500 finder's fee.