Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Fired Tomah VA chief to surrender medical license
Bill Glauber and Daniel Bice
January 18, 2017

Senator Tammy Baldwin

The psychiatrist at the center of an opioid scandal at the troubled Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center has agreed to surrender his medical license, under an agreement reached Wednesday with state regulators.

Under the deal, David J. Houlihan agreed never to apply for a medical license in the state, in exchange for state regulators dropping their investigation into his actions at Tomah and not seeking reimbursement for the probe. Houlihan has 30 days to wrap up his practice in La Crosse before surrendering his license.

While chief of staff at the Tomah facility, Houlihan was given the nickname “candy man” by some vets because of his alleged widespread distribution of painkillers.

“I believe he has no business treating our nation’s veterans or any citizen in Wisconsin, so this is welcome news,” U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin said in a statement on Houlihan’s deal with the state.

The Tomah VA came under fire in January 2015, when a report by the Center for Investigative Reporting detailed high levels of opioid prescriptions at the facility and a pervasive culture of intimidation and retaliation against employees who spoke out.

Officials in the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs’ office of inspector general had identified “troubling” levels of opioid prescriptions at the facility in 2014 but found no criminal wrongdoing.

Last year, the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which is headed by Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, issued a withering report identifying “systemic failures” by the OIG for its review of the problems at the Tomah hospital.

Houlihan has been under investigation by the state’s Medical Examining Board for more than two years. The board filed three complaints against him.

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