Rutledge Launches Prescription for Life in First School in the NationTue, Sep 19, 2017
Class of students at Fort Smith Southside High School are first to use curriculum
FORT SMITH – In conjunction with National Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today launched a first-in-the-nation education initiative called “Prescription for Life” at Fort Smith Southside 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.
Southside High School is the first institution to use the program in the country after Rutledge announced the creation of the initiative in July, which comes at no cost to participating schools in Arkansas.
“If Prescription for Life helps save just one life and creates a dialogue with high school students about opioid abuse, then the program is a success,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansas is the first in the nation to launch such an educational program, and it is my goal that it will become a model for other states to adopt. I know that Fort Smith Southside will not regret bringing this curriculum to their classrooms.”
Rutledge 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.
“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.”
“We are honored to be the first school to be involved in the launch of the Prescription for Life curriculum,” said Southside Principal Wayne Haver.
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.
Rutledge plans to launch the program in Jonesboro High School on Wednesday and expects more schools to begin using the program in the coming weeks.
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.
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 850 taking advantage of early bird registration.
Drug overdose deaths are on the rise in Arkansas, increasing from 287 in 2015 to 335 in 2016, according to data from the State Crime Lab. More than 40 percent of teenagers in Arkansas have tried prescription drugs and more than half of all teens report that it is easy to obtain prescription drugs from their parents’ or grandparents’ medicine cabinets. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that between 59,000 and 65,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2016, up from 52,404 in 2015 and double the death rate a decade ago. That is more than the number of deaths from car accidents in 2016. And according to the Centers for Disease Control, the majority of drug overdose deaths – six out of 10 – involve an opioid.
Find more information about the program and how to bring it to schools or other settings at ArkansasAG.gov.
Rutledge Fighting Opioid IncentivesMon, Sep 18, 2017
Calls on insurance companies to give proper consideration to incentivizing non-opioid treatments
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge co-led a bipartisan coalition of 37 states and territories urging health insurance companies to examine financial incentives that contribute to the opioid epidemic in Arkansas and across the country. Rutledge is encouraging a two-step strategy with insurance companies intended to identify problematic policies and encourage reforms to spur increased use of non-opioid alternatives for treatment of chronic, non-cancer pain.
Describing the opioid epidemic as “the preeminent public health crisis of our time,” the 37 attorneys general sent a letter to industry trade groups and major insurance providers nationwide. It urges insurers to review their coverage and payment policies as the starting point in a coalition-initiated dialogue focused on incentive structures across the insurance industry.
“The only way to defeat the opioid crisis is with an all-of-the-above approach, and that includes working with the insurance industry and examining their incentive structures,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I am hopeful that insurance companies, like so many stakeholders, will recognize the gravity of the epidemic and give proper consideration to incentivizing non-opioid treatments.”
The attorneys general, in acknowledging the important role insurance companies play in reducing opioid prescriptions, hope to assess the positive and negative impacts incentive structures have on the opioid epidemic. Rutledge and her colleagues contend the incentives that promote use of non-opioid therapies will increase the practicality of medical providers considering such treatments.
Increased reliance on these alternatives will combat a significant factor contributing to the epidemic – the over-prescription of opioid painkillers. The letter notes the number of opioid prescriptions have quadrupled since 1999, despite the amount of pain reported by Americans remaining steady. Drug overdose deaths are on the rise in Arkansas, increasing from 287 in 2015 to 335 in 2016, according to data from the State Crime Lab.
Rutledge co-sponsored the letter, which was led by the West Virginia Attorney General, along with attorneys general from Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, Utah and Virginia.
Other attorneys general signing the letter are Arizona, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin.
Rutledge Issues Urgent Warning on Equifax and Con ArtistsMon, Sep 18, 2017
Says, ‘Criminals are going to call and email Arkansans looking to exploit the exposure of their personal information’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today is warning Arkansans to be on alert as the Equifax data breach will likely lead to hacking and phishing attempts from con artists and criminals, both over the phone and online. Rutledge, who has taken on a leading role and is working with other states as part of a thorough review, has learned that at least 1.2 million Arkansans may be impacted.
“Criminals are going to call and email Arkansans looking to exploit the exposure of their personal information,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Just because someone calls claiming to be from Equifax or emails claiming to be a bank does not mean they are. Arkansans should stay vigilant as I work with other states to get to the bottom of how and why this data breach occurred.”
Arkansans should be on the lookout for phishing emails that claim to be Equifax and offering to check if your data is compromised, emails that claim a problem has occurred with a credit card or bank, calls or emails from a scammer claiming to be your bank and any unexpected charges on a credit or debit card.
If you have been a victim of identity theft, close accounts that have been tampered with or fraudulently opened and file a complaint with the FTC. The Attorney General’s office also offers an ID Theft Passport to help victims reestablish their good name.
Arkansans can visit ArkansasAG.gov to get the latest information about the breach.
Rutledge Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Reaffirm Individual Free SpeechThu, Sep 14, 2017
Says, ‘These unique and important freedoms must be protected’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, calling on the court to protect the freedom of speech of a baker in Colorado. The brief calls on the Court to follow through on the commitment it made in Obergefell to protect this fundamental right.
“An individual’s free speech must be protected by the government, not threatened,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The Supreme Court has routinely protected free speech and the religious conscience rights of citizens – aspects of our freedom that make this country unique to its core. These unique and important freedoms must be protected.”
The justices will hear arguments in Masterpiece Cake Shop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission later this year. The owner of Masterpiece Cake Shop in Lakewood, CO declined to bake a wedding cake for a local same-sex couple. Owner Jack Phillips indicated to the couple that he would be glad to make a birthday or graduation cake or a cake for any other occasion. But he could not, consistent with his religious views, design and create a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding. Phillips’ refusal to design and create such a cake is consistent with his refusal to create cakes for Halloween or divorcee parties – events that his religious beliefs prevent him from supporting.
As the coalition notes, “This compulsion of speech is constitutionality forbidden. And for good reason: Government power to order individuals to speak in a manner that violates their conscience is fundamentally at odds with the freedom of expression and tolerance for a diversity of viewpoints that this Nation has long enjoyed and promoted.”
Rutledge has filed this brief after she co-led a 14-state coalition in filing an amicus brief with the Court urging the justices to grant review and protect the religious conscience rights of a Washington florist named Barronelle Stutzman.
Joining Rutledge on today’s brief, which was led by the state of Texas, are the attorneys general of Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin, along with the Commonwealth Of Kentucky, by and through Governor Matthew G. Bevin and Paul R. Le Page, Governor of Maine.
Rutledge Announces Conviction of Randolph County Woman for Medicaid FraudTue, Sep 12, 2017
Says, ‘Shirley Contreras repeatedly made fraudulent claims, stealing thousands from the Medicaid Trust fund’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the conviction of a Pocahontas woman for Medicaid fraud. Shirley Diane Contreras pleaded guilty in Pulaski County Circuit Court and was sentenced to three years of probation and was ordered to pay $5,514.04 in restitution and $2,500.00 in fines plus court costs. Contreras paid $3,000 in restitution to the Arkansas Medicaid Program Trust Fund today and will pay the remaining balance at a rate of $418 per month until paid in full.
“Shirley Contreras repeatedly made fraudulent claims, stealing thousands from the Medicaid Trust fund,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The care she claimed to have provided but never did harmed vulnerable Arkansans who were dependent on her for assistance. My staff of attorneys and investigators will continue to investigate and prosecute this fraud across the state.”
Contreras, 48, of Pocahontas pleaded guilty to Theft by Deception, a Class C felony. She was accused of billing for services not rendered to three Medicaid recipients from June 2014 to August 2015, including $2,895.29, a Class B felony; $1801.70, a Class C felony; and $817.05, a Class C felony.
The case was prosecuted in coordination with the 6th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley.
To report Medicaid fraud or abuse or neglect in residential care facilities, complete the online form at ArkansasAG.gov, call the Attorney General’s Medicaid fraud hotline at (866) 810-0016 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rutledge Announces Speakers for 2017 Law Enforcement SummitTue, Sep 12, 2017
Will include the Indiana Attorney General and Boston Transit Police Officer Dic Donohue
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the full slate of speakers for the 15th Arkansas Law Enforcement Summit, which will be held on Oct. 3 at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock. The annual event is a free training and educational opportunity for Arkansas’s law enforcement community, including officers, prosecutors and criminal justice personnel.
“The instructional and networking opportunities that the Law Enforcement Summit presents are invaluable,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I encourage all officers to register to attend so they can hear and learn from these tremendous speakers.”
This year’s summit will begin with Boston Transit Police Officer Dic Donohue. Donohue was grievously injured in April 2013 during a gun battle with two suspects who were later identified as the Boston Marathon bombers. A bullet severed Donohue’s femoral artery and he suffered severe blood loss. He survived because fellow officers gave him immediate lifesaving care and prolonged CPR. Given a 2 percent chance to live, Donohue survived and has been recognized by over 20 law enforcement and civic organizations for his outstanding service. Donohue’s remarks and presentation will begin at 8:30 a.m.
Rutledge will also welcome her colleague Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, who will speak at 10:15 a.m. As Indiana’s chief legal officer, Hill oversees a staff of more than 400 employees spread across multiple divisions. Hill has focused his agenda on four priorities: rolling back federal overreach; protecting families from drugs and violent crime; safeguarding consumers from fraud and scams; and inspiring youth to pursue meaningful lives. Hill was serving his fourth term as Elkhart County prosecutor when he was elected to his current role on Nov. 8, 2016. He took office on Jan. 9, 2017. He earned both his bachelor’s and law degrees from Indiana University in Bloomington.
During a noon luncheon, Rutledge will again recognize one outstanding law enforcement officer from each county in addition to the statewide and regional award winners that will be announced.
The afternoon will include a presentation from the Attorney General’s office Legislative Director Cory Cox on changes to Arkansas law impacting the law enforcement community that occurred during the last regular session of the Arkansas General Assembly. AT&T Asset Protection Senior Investigator Peggy Fletcher and Arkansas Recycling Association General Counsel Walter Wright Jr. and Special Agent Stephen Svetz will speak about combating metal theft. The summit will conclude with a presentation from Deputy Attorney General Will Jones and Special Agent Chris Cone who will discuss forensic tools and techniques to combat cyber criminals.
Registration is open and available at ArkansasAG.gov.