Rutledge Honored with Sandra Wilson Cherry AwardFri, Feb 9, 2018
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today released the following statement after receiving the 2018 Sandra Wilson Cherry Award presented by the Gaines House.
“It is an honor to receive this important award and to be recognized as a role model for women across Arkansas,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Sandra Wilson Cherry dedicated her life to public service and I will continue to embrace her legacy by serving the people of our great state. As Arkansas’s first elected female Attorney General, I strive to empower women by providing resources such as Laura’s Card and Break the Cycle training. These programs, alongside the valuable work of the Gaines House, benefit every Arkansan and I am proud to help bring a voice to those who would otherwise live in silence.”
In 2016, Rutledge began providing Laura’s Card to assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Laura’s Card includes 24-hour crisis line phone numbers, a list of victim’s rights and information about resources available. More than 100,000 Laura’s Cards, available in English and Spanish, have been distributed to Arkansas law enforcement agencies and service providers. Additionally, LaurasCard.ar.gov was created with links to numerous resources available for victims of abuse. Rutledge also began offering Break the Cycle training across Arkansas, which focuses on youth dating abuse prevention and intervention and helps educators recognize and discuss the warning signs of dating violence. Break the Cycle is a leading national nonprofit organization providing comprehensive dating abuse prevention programs.
The Sandra Wilson Cherry Award is presented by the Gaines House. For more than fifty years, the Gaines House has enabled hundreds of homeless women with mental illness to successfully complete a psychiatric rehabilitation process and become productive members of our community. The Gaines House is unique in Arkansas and offers a supervised residential environment preparing homeless women with mental illness to strive for independence.
Rutledge to Investigate Reimbursement Rates from CVS CaremarkThu, Feb 8, 2018
Says, ‘reimbursements to local pharmacists do not cover the actual cost of the medication’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that she has demanded information from CVS Caremark, a Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM), after reviewing complaints of plummeting medication reimbursement rates paid to local pharmacies.
“The change in reimbursement rates by the Pharmacy Benefit Managers has hurt Arkansans in every community across the state,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Local pharmacists are critical members of Arkansas’s communities. Due to these changes, pharmacists are facing tough decisions because the reimbursements do not cover the actual cost of the medications. When public health is threatened, all Arkansans suffer.”
PBMs, like CVS Caremark, are the go-between for health insurance companies and pharmacies and dictate reimbursement amounts on each prescription. Earlier this year, the Attorney General began reviewing reports that CVS Caremark reduced its reimbursement rate for pharmacies in the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace. In roughly 20 percent of prescription fills, prescription reimbursement rates reportedly dropped lower than purchase costs. Local pharmacists are forced to cover the additional costs of these rate changes, which impacts their bottom line and could lead to these businesses closing their doors. Investigators and attorneys have requested information pertinent to establishing if the reimbursement rate change triggers provisions of Arkansas’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
The Attorney General will continue to aggressively investigate the PBMs responsible and requests that any citizen harmed by these rate changes contact the office.
Rutledge Urges Kentucky Supreme Court to Protect Freedom of SpeechWed, Feb 7, 2018
Leads a 10-state coalition in filing an amicus brief in Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission v. Hands On Originals, Inc.
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is leading a 10-state coalition in filing an amicus brief in the Supreme Court of Kentucky urging the court to protect their citizens’ freedom of speech. The attorneys general believe this case has national implications and that similar cases may arise in their states.
“Both sides in this case are in agreement that printing of the t-shirts undoubtedly qualifies as speech under the First Amendment,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This country has a rich history of protecting freedom of speech, as well as the free exercise of religion. Along with my colleagues, I am urging the Supreme Court of Kentucky to overturn the order from the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission, which threatens First Amendment rights everywhere.”
This case involves a t-shirt printing company, Hands On Originals, that declined to print t-shirts supporting the Lexington Pride Festival. The company is being sued by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission for refusing to disseminate a message with which it disagreed.
Hands On Originals and its owners do not object to serving customers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, but object to producing items that promote acts that are contrary to their deeply held beliefs. The business offered to refer the organization to another company that would have printed the t-shirts for the pride festival.
In the brief, the attorneys general state: “It is one thing to compel a business to serve people on an equal basis without regard to sexual orientation; it is quite another thing to compel a person to print t-shirts that communicate a message that he or she believes to be profoundly wrong.”
Arkansas is joined in filing by attorneys general from Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia.
Rutledge Announces Arrest of Pulaski County Man for Crimes Involving ChildrenMon, Feb 5, 2018
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced the arrest of Anthony Lee Ridenour of Little Rock on 30 counts of distributing, possessing or viewing of matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child, a Class C felony.
Ridenour, 56, was arrested by the Attorney General’s office Cyber Crimes Unit and the Little Rock Police Department. He was released from the Pulaski County Regional Detention Facility on $15,000 bond.
Special agents in the Attorney General’s office seized multiple laptops and external storage devices from the residence. The case is being turned over to Sixth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley.
Rutledge Praises Ruling Allowing Mulvaney’s CFPB AppointmentFri, Feb 2, 2018
Says, ‘The ruling by Judge Kelly is the right decision’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today sent a letter to President Donald J. Trump in support of Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney’s appointment to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). U.S. District Court Judge Timothy J. Kelly denied the temporary restraining order seeking to prevent Mulvaney from serving as the head of the CFPB.
“The ruling by Judge Kelly is the right decision and will move the CFPB forward,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The CFPB has a history of federal overreach and a blatant disregard for the rule of law, but I am confident that Director Mulvaney’s leadership will ensure that the bureau focuses on genuinely protecting consumers within the confines of the law.”
“We believe the bureau, consumers, and the industry leaders can and will unite behind the new director to help achieve the common goals of encouraging innovation in the industry, penalizing those who do harm, and working together to find solutions to important financial issues,” the attorneys general wrote.
In addition to Rutledge, the letter, which was led by South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, was signed by attorneys general from Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas.
Rutledge Part of $24 Million Kool Smiles SettlementFri, Feb 2, 2018
Arkansas to receive over $475,000
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has joined with the United States, the District of Columbia and 19 other states to reach a settlement with Benevis LLC and 133 Kool Smiles Clinics, resolving allegations that the company submitted false claims to the Medicaid program by performing unnecessary procedures. This included providing stainless steel crowns, performing tooth extractions and baby pulpotomies on pediatric patients and failing to offer less costly treatment options when available.
Benevis and Kool Smiles will pay the federal government $23.9 million. Arkansas will receive $478,500 in restitution and other recoveries.
“The State of Arkansas will not tolerate irresponsible actions by companies that not only cost patients more of their hard-earned money, but also increase cost to taxpayers across the country,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Patients rely on and trust medical professionals, including dentists, to provide the best and most cost effective care possible.”
The settlement also resolves allegations that Benevis and Kool Smiles failed to implement appropriate audit processes and engaged in conduct resulting in overutilization of procedures. Such allegations were productivity bonuses based on revenue generated by performed procedures, scheduling practices that maximized patient visits per day and pressure to meet production goals, including termination of dentists failing to meet productivity goals from January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2011.
Benevis LLC, formerly known as NCDR, LLC, is a private company that provides non-clinical practice support services to dentists and dental clinics, including services relating to the management of clinic finances and administration. Since approximately 2002, Benevis has provided support to Kool Smiles Dental Clinics located throughout the United States, including the 133 Kool Smiles Clinics at issue in the agreement. The clinics are owned by professional corporations that are owned by licensed dentists and provide dental care to children and some adults, including beneficiaries covered by Medicaid.
A National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units (NAMFCU) team investigated the allegations in conjunction with the Department of Justice and United States Attorneys Offices in Connecticut, the Southern District of Texas, the Western District of Texas and the Eastern District of Virginia. The NAMFCU team included representatives from the Offices of the Attorneys General for the states of Texas, Massachusetts, South Carolina, New York and Virginia.