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Department of Health Director Akhter Takes Leave of Absence To Serve on District's New Health Benefit Exchange Authority

Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Dr. Saul Levin to Serve as Interim Director of the Department of Health

Dr. Mohammad Akhter, Director the DC Department of Health (DOH), will take an unpaid leave of absence to serve on the Executive Board of the District’s newly created Health Benefit Exchange Authority (HBX). Dr. Saul Levin will serve as the Interim Director of DOH during Dr. Akhter’s absence.

“The appointment of Dr. Akhter to the Health Benefit Exchange Authority was a strategic decision by my administration,” said Mayor Vincent C. Gray. “Implementing the Affordable Care Act is one my top priorities, and I am confident Dr. Akhter can lead the way in that effort.”

In June, Mayor Gray submitted nominees to lead the District’s Health Benefit Exchange Authority, which will guide implementation of a crucial part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – state-level insurance exchanges that will provide health-insurance customers with more choice and buying power in purchasing affordable health-care plans. The nominees were confirmed by the DC Council on July 10, 2012, and Mayor Gray swore them in on July 16. The authority was created by DC Council legislation under the Health Benefit Exchange Authority Establishment Act of 2011 (DC L12-0094).

Dr. Akhter was appointed to serve as the Director of the Department of Health by Mayor Gray in January, 2011. He served as the District’s commissioner of public health from 1991 to 1994, and more recently as a professor at Howard University’s College of Medicine. Dr. Akhter served as the co-chair of the Mayor’s Health Reform Implementation Committee (HRIC), which was charged with coordinating the initial stages of ACA implementation in the District.

Dr. Levin recently joined DOH as the Senior Deputy Director of the Addiction, Prevention and Recovery Administration. Most recently, Dr. Levin served as the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Vice President of for Science, Medicine and Public Health. Dr. Levin’s professional career also includes: serving as a special expert appointee in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) within the US Department of Health and Human Services. At SAMHSA, Dr. Levin led the initiative to integrate primary care, substance abuse, mental health and HIV/AIDS response.

Dr. Levin received his medical degree in 1982 from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. He completed his residency in psychiatry at the University of California, Davis Medical Center. He received his Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government in 1994.

About the ACA
On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law. The law puts in place comprehensive health-insurance reforms that will hold insurance companies more accountable, lower health-care costs, guarantee more health-care choices and enhance the quality of health care for all Americans. The law is intended to provide greater access to quality, affordable health care.

For more information on ACA implementation in the District, please visit www.healthreform.dc.gov.