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POTUS Correct to Call Opioid Crisis a ‘Public Health Emergency’

Rutledge: POTUS Correct to Call Opioid Crisis a ‘Public Health Emergency’

Thu, Oct 26, 2017

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today issued a statement following the announcement from President Donald J. Trump that directs the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency.

“The President is correct to call the opioid crisis a public health emergency,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “In 2016, more than two million Americans had an addiction to prescription or illicit opioids and the crisis continues to get worse every day. Arkansas is not immune from this epidemic with overdose deaths increasing from 287 in 2015 to 335 in 2016. I stand ready to work with the President and will continue to tackle the epidemic with an all-of-the-above approach that includes education, prevention and treatment.”

Rutledge has brought a first-in-the-nation curriculum to Arkansas called Prescription for Life. Prescription for Life features a digital platform to help high school students in the State understand the dangers of prescription drug misuse and how to prevent abuse. The program is free to high schools and more information can be found at ArkansasAG.gov. The curriculum is part of the Attorney General’s already robust prescription drug abuse prevention initiative. During 2016, more than 330 pounds of prescription drugs were collected at Attorney General Mobile Offices across Arkansas and over 160 pounds have been collected since the beginning of 2017. The sixth annual Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit, hosted by Rutledge, is scheduled for Nov. 9 in Hot Springs with over 1000 registered to attend.

Rutledge is also encouraging Arkansans to clean out their medicine cabinets and bring any unused or expired medications to one of the state’s more than 100 Prescription Drug Take Back Day drop-off locations from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 28. To find event sites and year-round drop-off locations near you, visit ARTakeBack.org.

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Conviction of Faulkner County Woman for Medicaid Fraud
Arrest of Three Mississippi Women for Fraud

Rutledge Announces Arrest of Three Mississippi Women for Fraud

Tue, Oct 24, 2017

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the arrest of three Mississippi women.

Pearlie Bailey, 63, of Hollandale, Mississippi turned herself in to the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office on two counts of health care fraud, Class B felonies, and one count of Failure to Maintain Medicaid records, Class D felony. She appeared in Pulaski County District Court and was released on a $2,500 bond.

Charline Brandon, 61, of Cleveland, Mississippi turned herself in to the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office on one count of health care fraud, Class B felony, one count of Medicaid fraud, Class B felony and one count of Engaging in a Continuing Criminal gang, or enterprise, Class Y felony. She appeared in Pulaski County District Court and was released on a $25,000 bond.

Debra Stewart, 59, of Helena was arrested on June 15 on two counts of health care fraud, Class B felonies, along with one count of Medicaid fraud, Class C felony, and one count Medicaid fraud, Class A misdemeanor.

The three are accused of fraudulently billing for services not rendered and for providing false information for the purpose of requesting payment from a health plan, totaling almost $290,000 from March 2011 to January 2017. This case was referred to the Arkansas Attorney General’s office by the Mississippi Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and is part of an ongoing investigation with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Inspector General.

Medicaid fraud occurs when providers use the Medicaid program to obtain money to which they are not entitled. To report Medicaid fraud or abuse or neglect in residential care facilities, contact the Attorney General’s Medicaid fraud hotline at (866) 810-0016 or oag@arkansasag.gov.

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Governor Hutchinson Joins Attorney General for Roundtable in Batesville

Governor Hutchinson Joins Attorney General for Roundtable in Batesville

Tue, Oct 24, 2017

Meet with more than 25 community leaders

BATESVILLE – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge welcomed Gov. Asa Hutchinson to her hometown of Batesville today to participate in a Rutledge Roundtable. Rutledge is in her third year of holding roundtables in each of Arkansas’s 75 counties.

This year’s attendees have mostly consisted of civil, education and faith-based leaders to discuss local issues, as well as how to bolster the State’s economy, address the growing prescription drug epidemic, domestic violence, cyber crimes against children, internet safety and much more.

“I am proud to welcome our Governor to my hometown to visit with community leaders,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Not all solutions come from Little Rock, and it is important for me and the Governor to hear from Arkansans outside the capital city to learn exactly what they expect from government and how we can all work together to grow jobs, combat prescription drug abuse and protect our most vulnerable.”

“The Attorney General's statewide roundtables are a terrific opportunity to hear from business people, citizens and community leaders from all over Arkansas,” said Gov. Hutchinson. “Their insights are of great value, and I appreciate Attorney General Rutledge's invitation to attend this particular roundtable in her hometown of Batesville.”

Since taking office, Rutledge has held 225 Rutledge Roundtables with more than 2,050 attendees.

Before today’s roundtable, Gov. Hutchinson joined Rutledge at her alma mater, Southside High School, to launch Prescription for Life, a first-in-the-nation education initiative that features a digital platform to help high school students in the State understand the dangers of prescription drug misuse and how to prevent abuse. The Attorney General’s office is offering the curriculum at no cost to participating schools.

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Rutledge Launches Prescription for Life in Union County

Joined by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, Rutledge Launches Prescription for Life in Union County

Mon, Oct 23, 2017

Parkers Chapel is first school in south Arkansas to use curriculum

EL DORADO – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, joined by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and Arkansas Drug Director Kirk Lane, continued her launch of a first-in-the-nation education initiative called “Prescription for Life” at Parkers Chapel High School. Prescription for Life features a digital platform to help high school students in the State understand the dangers of prescription drug misuse and how to prevent abuse.

Prescription for Life comes at no cost to participating schools in Arkansas and is now operating in the Fort Smith, Jonesboro, Shirley, Benton and Parkers Chapel School Districts.

“Bringing Prescription for Life to schools across our state is helping start a conversation with our high school students,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansas ranks number one in the nation for ages 12 to 17 in misuse of painkillers – a ranking no state wants to have. Prescription for Life is going to help change that, and I am grateful to have General Landry and State Drug Director Lane with me at Parkers Chapel to show their support for this program.”

Rutledge, Landry and Lane observed a class of students going through the 30-minute course, which was followed up with a post-assessment survey to measure changes in students’ attitudes and behavior.

“I commend Attorney General Rutledge for the implementation of her Prescription for Life program, which helps educate students on the dangers of misusing and abusing prescription drugs,” said Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry. “I am grateful to have such a strong partner as General Rutledge in our fight to end the opioid epidemic sweeping across Arkansas, Louisiana and our entire country.”

“Prescription for Life is key to educating young Arkansans on how to avoid substance abuse,” said State Drug Director Kirk Lane. “This program will save lives and be a positive influence on Arkansas's health and safety.”

Using an evidence-based public health approach, the digital course empowers high school students with the skills and knowledge they need to make safe and healthy decisions about prescription drugs. The course is aligned with the Centers for Disease Control’s National Health Education Standards and State academic standards.

The self-paced modular course uses video, animations, simulations and interactivity to deliver a personalized, self-guided learning experience. The real-life simulations demonstrate the impact misuse can have on students’ physical and mental health, relationships and future goals while the scenario-based exercises help students practice how to support other students in their choices regarding the safe use of prescription drugs.

Educators from the Attorney General’s office are also available to conduct teacher in-service trainings in person and through webcasts and give presentations to parent and community groups throughout the State about how to talk with young people about risks associated with opioid use and how to recognize signs that their loved ones are abusing drugs.

Rutledge joined Landry in Shreveport this morning to announce more prescription drug take back box location in north Louisiana, saying, “Arkansas has an extensive drug take back box network throughout our 75 counties, and the addition of these boxes to parishes across north Louisiana will be a great convenience for Arkansans who work or have friends and family across the state line. I am proud of General Landry’s leadership on this important issue. I know that he is committed, just as I am, to tackling the prescription drug abuse epidemic that is spreading across our states with an all-of-the-above approach that includes education, prevention and treatment.”

Find more information about Prescription for Life and how to bring it to schools or other settings at ArkansasAG.gov.

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Settlement with General Motors Over Defective Ignition Switch

Rutledge Reaches Settlement with General Motors Over Defective Ignition Switch

Thu, Oct 19, 2017

Arkansas to receive over $1.4 million

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has reached a $120 million settlement, along with 48 other states and the District of Columbia, with General Motors Company (GM) over allegations that the company concealed safety issues related to ignition switch defects in GM vehicles. Arkansas will receive over $1.4 million.

The settlement concludes an investigation into the auto manufacturer’s failure to timely disclose known safety defects associated with unintended key-rotation-related and/or ignition-switch-related issues in several model years of GM vehicles.

“GM’s failure to notify consumers of these ignition-switch issues is not only deceptive but dangerous,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This inexcusable action placed the safety of Arkansans driving these flawed vehicles at risk as well as other drivers on the road. GM is being held accountable for these violations of many consumer protection laws.”

In 2014, GM issued seven vehicle recalls in response to unintended key-rotation-related and/or ignition-switch-related issues, which have affected over 9 million vehicles in the U.S. The recalls involved a defective ignition switch which, under certain conditions, could move out of the “run” position to the “accessory” or “off” position. Resulting in a loss of electrical systems, including power steering and power brakes. If a collision occurs while the ignition switch is in the “accessory” or “off” position, the vehicle’s safety airbags may also fail to deploy, increasing the risk of serious injury or death in certain types of crashes in which the airbag was otherwise designed to deploy.

As Rutledge and her colleagues alleged, certain employees of GM, knew as early as 2004 that the ignition switch posed a serious safety issue because it could cause airbag non-deployment. Despite this knowledge, GM personnel decided it was not a safety concern and delayed issuing recalls. GM continued to market the reliability and safety of its vehicles which were equipped with this defective ignition switch.

The states alleged that these actions were unfair and deceptive and that the automaker’s actions violated state consumer protection laws, including the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Under the consent judgment, GM shall:

  • Not represent that a motor vehicle is “safe” unless they have complied with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety standards applicable to the motor vehicle at issue.
  • Not represent that certified pre-owned vehicles that GM advertises are safe, have been repaired for safety issues, or have been subject to rigorous inspection, unless such vehicles are not subject to any open recalls relating to safety or have been repaired pursuant to such a recall.
  • Instruct its dealers that all applicable recall repairs must be completed before any GM motor vehicle sold in the U.S. and included in a recall is eligible for certification and, if there is a recall on any certified pre-owned vehicle sold in the U.S., the required repair must be completed before the vehicle is delivered to a customer.

In addition to Arkansas, the multistate group – led by Ohio, South Carolina, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas – includes Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

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