The Health Care Compliance Associations annual Compliance Institute was held in Las Vegas this week. Funny, right? The association of professionals charged with upholding rules and ethical standards congregating in the city of few rules and vile ethical standards.
The keynote speaker was HHS Inspector General Daniel Levinson, who quickly made note of and dispensed with anyones worries that he, the governments schoolmarm, might disapprove of where the attendees had chosen to take their field trip, a place associated with a reckless fun, as the organizations they work for and represent struggle through these dire economic times. Im going to go out on a limb here, Levinson said. I see no problem with having a conference or convention in Las Vegas. Vegas is part of America, Levinson said.
The inspector general revealed a winning, dry sense of humor Id never detected in the many reports and letters issued by his office, so maybe I need to read more closely. As he walked through Caesars Palace, Levinson said, hed passed two women returning from the gym or pool, and one said to the other, Hes so conference, to which he thought, Ladies, Ive been so conference since I was about 13, making a reference to his own mitzvah and cutely tying it to the fact that the yearly HCCA event was the 13th one, held April 26-29. Roy Snell, the association's CEO, estimated 2,000 people attended the event, about 11% fewer than last year.
Levinson went on to make a case for healthcare organizations to dedicate increasing resources to their personnel and programs riding herd over the use of public dollars, because enforcement efforts are being stepped up by his office, in concert with the Justice Department and state attorneys general, as Medicare and Medicaid continue to grow. You dont have to wait for healthcare reform to understand our programs are growing, Levinson said, noting the $137 billion tagged for healthcare in the recently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the boomer bubble headed for Medicare.
I thought of this a couple of hours later when I noted two women considering whether to join a session titled Cost-conscious compliance: Promoting integrity and maximizing results with limited resources (Im pretty sure they werent the same ones from Levinsons anecdote). That sounds boring, one said, to which the other replied with a sigh, We DO have limited resources.