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Rutledge Joins Lawsuit Challenging the Unlawful DACA Program

Rutledge Joins Lawsuit Challenging the Unlawful DACA Program

Tue, May 1, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today joined a seven-state coalition against the federal government to end the unconstitutional Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which granted lawful presence and work permits for nearly one million unlawfully present aliens without congressional approval.

“President Obama did not have the constitutional authority to institute and expand the DACA program,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The United States is a compassionate country, but we are also a country of laws and it is important that I stand up for the rule of law, even in hard cases – in fact, that is when it is most important. The Constitution requires a program like DACA to be instituted by Congress, not the unilateral action of the executive branch.”

In September, President Donald J. Trump announced plans to end the DACA program and requested that Congress find a legislative fix to the issue within six months. But earlier this year, a ruling by a U.S. District Court in California blocked the federal government from cancelling DACA, forcing the Administration to leave it in place indefinitely as legal challenges drag on. Then, last month, the D.C. Federal District Court ruled that the Trump Administration had 90 days to fully restore DACA.

In the lawsuit, the attorneys general urge the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas to declare DACA unlawful and stop the federal government from issuing or renewing any DACA permits in the future. The lawsuit does not ask the federal government to remove any alien currently covered by DACA, nor does it ask the Trump Administration to rescind DACA permits that have already been issued.

Rutledge joined the Texas-led lawsuit with Alabama, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia.

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Rutledge Applauds Arkansas’s Educational Efforts Against Opioid Abuse

Rutledge Applauds Arkansas’s Educational Efforts Against Opioid Abuse

Mon, Apr 30, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today applauded the AR-IMPACT program, an educational tool announced by Governor Asa Hutchinson that is aimed at Arkansas’s medical providers and the State’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.

“I am proud of the comprehensive approach that Arkansas has taken to battle the ongoing opioid epidemic. The new AR-IMPACT program will help educate medical providers and serve as an important addition to Arkansas’s opioid-education resources, including my office’s first-in-the-nation Prescription for Life program created to educate high school students about prescription drug use and misuse. By utilizing resources throughout the state and across all levels of government, we can save lives.”

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Rutledge Announces Settlement with Kmart

Rutledge Announces Settlement with Kmart

Mon, Apr 30, 2018

Says, ‘Kmart took advantage of Medicaid and its patients’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has joined with the federal government and other states to settle allegations that Kmart Corporation, owned by Sears Holdings Management Corporation, charged the Medicaid program more than its usual and customary charge for certain medications.

“Medicaid is an important program for many Arkansans and Kmart’s actions are shameful,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Kmart took advantage of Medicaid and its patients with its unacceptable business practices. I am proud to ensure that Kmart is held accountable for charging the program more money than it charged other customers for prescription medications.”

Under the terms of the settlement, Arkansas will receive $82,259.18 of the $59 million settlement, which will be paid to the Arkansas Medicaid Program Trust Fund.

The settlement stems from a lawsuit alleging that Kmart was submitting false claims when it charged federal health care programs higher prices than it was charging cash paying customers. Kmart billed and received $5 from Medicaid for a prescription that cash paying customers could purchase for $4. As a result of Kmart’s actions, Kmart received reimbursement amounts from Medicare, Medicaid and other federal healthcare programs that were higher than it was entitled to receive in violation of federal and state false claims statutes. The premise of the claim is that the federal government and virtually every state Medicaid program require that a provider charge no more than its “usual and customary” rate for a good or service.

The settlement was negotiated by several states’ Medicaid Fraud Control Units and the United States Department of Justice and resolves the allegations that happened between September 1, 2004 and December 31, 2014.

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Rutledge Announces Two Women Sentenced for Deception

Rutledge Announces Two Women Sentenced for Deception

Fri, Apr 27, 2018

Says, ‘Medicaid is a vital safety net for Arkansans’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the conviction of two women on unrelated charges.

Lindsey Edmonson-Nevels pleaded no contest to theft by deception in Saline County Circuit Court and must pay $15,451.09 in restitution to the Arkansas Medicaid Program Trust Fund plus $4,000 in fines to the General Fund to the State of Arkansas. Edmonson-Nevels was also sentenced to 10 years probation and will be excluded from participation in the Medicaid program for five years.

Eva Sykes pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud in Pulaski County Circuit Court and has already paid $25,000 in restitution to the Arkansas Medicaid Program Trust Fund and has been ordered to pay $600 in fines. Sykes was also sentenced to 3 years probation and will be excluded from participation in the Medicaid program.

“Lindsey Edmonson-Nevels and Eva Sykes broke the law and we have ensured that they will pay for their crimes,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Medicaid is a vital safety net for Arkansans and those who steal from the program must be held accountable. Attorneys and investigators at the Attorney General’s Office will continue to investigate these crimes and prosecute those who take advantage of the system to put a stop to this type of fraud.”

Edmonson-Nevels, 34, of Benton, pleaded no contest to one count of theft by deception, a Class C felony, for taking money from her father’s Irrevocable Income Trust which was to only be used for payments to her father’s long-term care facility. This case was referred to the MFCU by the Arkansas Department of Human Services, Division of Aging and Adult Services. An attorney from the Attorney General’s Office was appointed by 22nd Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Ken Casady as a special prosecutor.

Sykes, 62, of Lake Village, pleaded guilty to one count of Medicaid fraud, a Class C felony. Sykes was the owner of the Chicot County Early Childhood Center and billed the Medicaid program for services not rendered in February 2015. This case was referred to the MFCU by the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General and was prosecuted in coordination with Sixth 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 oag@arkansasag.gov.

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Rutledge Urges Court to Halt Obamacare

Rutledge Urges Court to Halt Obamacare

Thu, Apr 26, 2018

Says, ‘Obamacare has put an undue financial burden on Arkansans’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has joined a 20-state coalition requesting a preliminary injunction against the federal government’s Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

“Obamacare has put an undue financial burden on Arkansans,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The Court should grant the preliminary injunction and end this unconstitutional program."

When the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare in 2012, a majority of the justices stated that the individual mandate was legal through the taxing power of Congress, but not through the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. The commerce power, Chief Justice Roberts explained, gives Congress the power to regulate commerce, and not to compel commerce, as Obamacare does. Congress and the Obama Administration made it clear that the individual mandate was an essential component of the law, without which the remainder of the law would not have been enacted.

In its current unlawful form, Obamacare still imposes rising costs and transfers an enormous amount of regulatory power to the federal government. Around 70 percent of U.S. counties present citizens with a noncompetitive situation, having only one or two health insurers.

In February, the same 20-state coalition filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare, explaining that Congress rendered all of Obamacare unconstitutional by doing away with the tax penalty in Obamacare’s individual mandate when it enacted President Donald J. Trump’s tax overhaul.

In addition to Arkansas, the coalition – led by Texas and Wisconsin – includes the attorneys general of Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia, along with the governors of Maine and Mississippi.

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Rutledge: State Receives $57 Million in Tobacco Settlement Funds

Rutledge: State Receives $57 Million in Tobacco Settlement Funds

Tue, Apr 24, 2018

Says, ‘These critical funds improve the overall health of Arkansas residents’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has secured the 2018 share of proceeds from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) with tobacco companies. Twenty years ago, 46 states and numerous other jurisdictions entered into a historic, multibillion dollar agreement to settle consumer-protection lawsuits for the costs that they had incurred for treating the negative health effects of smoking.

“I am proud to enforce the tobacco statutes and secure Arkansas’s disbursement from the MSA agreement,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “These critical funds improve the overall health of Arkansas residents by funding smoking cessation programs and health care research. A large portion of this money will also go to help fund the Arkansas Medicaid program, which is vital for some of our State’s families and children.”

This year’s disbursement of $57,047,679.82 brings the total amount received since 2001 to fund various public health programs in Arkansas to $1,004,303,330.82.

The MSA imposed health-related and advertising restrictions on tobacco companies. Additionally, the agreement requires the settling manufacturers to make annual payments to the settling states.

The Attorney General is tasked with enforcing the tobacco statutes that were enacted pursuant to the MSA. This enforcement includes operation of a certification process for tobacco manufacturers, ongoing quarterly and annual reporting, maintaining an Approved-For-Sale Directory, conducting audits, collection of escrow amounts and investigation or even litigation should violations of the tobacco statutes occur.

In 2000, Arkansas voters created the Tobacco Settlement Act, which governs how the funds received under the settlement are used. Payments are placed into the Tobacco Settlement Program Fund for later distribution to the programs supported by the settlement payments, including the Arkansas Biosciences Institute, an agricultural and medical research consortium; the Medicaid Expansion Program, which provides Medicaid coverage for pregnant women and increases hospital benefits for Medicaid beneficiaries; the Prevention and Cessation Program, which aims to reduce tobacco use; and the Targeted State Needs Program, which includes support for public health programs for minorities, older Arkansans and residents of rural areas and the Delta.

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