Rutledge Launches Prescription for Life in Lonoke CountyTue, Oct 23, 2018
Program now in 85 schools, reaching over 9,500 students
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today provided an update on her first-in-the-nation education initiative “Prescription for Life” which expanded to the Cabot school district during national Red Ribbon Week. Attorney General Rutledge was joined today by law enforcement and education leaders to kick off the program in Lonoke County. Prescription for Life is now active in 85 schools in 61 counties, reaching a total of 9,535 students across Arkansas. Another 25 schools have committed to using Prescription for Life.
“One year ago, we launched Prescription for Life,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “And this year we celebrate the program’s huge success during Red Ribbon Week to bring awareness about the dangers of drug abuse. Prescription for Life is making a difference in our schools and educating teens about opioid abuse and misuse.”
Joining Attorney General Rutledge were Diane Upchurch, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge, Little Rock; U.S. Attorney Duane (Dak) Kees, Western District of Arkansas; Lonoke County Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Graham; Cabot Police Chief Jackie Davis; Supervisory Special Agent Nate Koen, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; Cabot Schools Superintendent Tony Thurman and officials with Everfi and Walmart.
Additionally, Rutledge is collaborating with the FBI and DEA to coordinate statewide screenings of the film “Chasing the Dragon” for students Oct. 24. “Chasing the Dragon” is a documentary produced by the FBI and DEA, which exposes the truth behind the opioid epidemic devastating communities in Arkansas and across the United States.
Rutledge also partners with federal and state agencies for the biannual National Take Back Day, coming up Oct. 27 at various locations throughout the State. Since 2016, more than 600 pounds of prescription drugs were collected at Attorney General Mobile Offices across Arkansas.
Each year, Rutledge also partners with a number of agencies in hosting the Arkansas Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit. The summit is a free training and educational opportunity for law enforcement officers, medical professionals, pharmacists and educators. The seventh annual Summit is scheduled for Nov. 1 in Hot Springs, with more than 1,000 already registered.
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 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. The course is aligned with the Centers for Disease Control’s National Health Education Standards and State academic standards.
In August, Rutledge announced a new initiative, #Rx4LifeStories, to allow Arkansans to talk about how the nation’s opioid epidemic has impacted their lives and the lives of their families.
Rutledge is also suing Johnson & Johnson, Purdue Pharma and Endo, opioid manufacturers who created the crisis in Arkansas for violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Arkansas Medicaid Fraud False Claims Act.
Rutledge Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Protect Arkansas Pharmacies from Negative ReimbursementsMon, Oct 22, 2018
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today filed a petition for a writ of certiorari asking the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold Act 900 of 2015—an Arkansas law requiring pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to reimburse pharmacies for dispensing prescriptions to insured individuals at pharmacies’ wholesale inventory costs at a minimum.
“Many Arkansans rely on pharmacies as their frontline healthcare provider,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “These same pharmacies are experiencing financial losses at the hands of middlemen PBMs that set pharmacy reimbursements so low that local pharmacies operate at a loss or are forced out of business. I will always protect Arkansans and small businesses from unfair business practices and ensure there is prescription drug pricing transparency in Arkansas.”
In 2015, the Arkansas General Assembly enacted Act 900 regulating reimbursement rates paid by PBMs that verify benefits and manage financial transactions among pharmacies, healthcare payors and patients. Prior to this action, PBMs provided below-cost, or negative, reimbursements for a significant number of prescriptions. These negative reimbursements have contributed to the closure of more than 16% of rural, independent pharmacies over the past 15 years nationwide and the closure of 12% of Arkansas’s independent pharmacies since 2006.
Rutledge’s petition to the U.S. Supreme Court comes after a three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision that Act 900 was partially preempted by the Medicaid Part D and federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.
For a copy of the petition, click here.
Rutledge Files Suit Against Jonathan Funk PhotographyFri, Oct 19, 2018
Says, ‘Jonathan Funk Photography willfully chose to deceive and violate the trust of many Arkansans’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed a consumer-protection lawsuit today against Jonathan and Paula Funk and their company Jonathan Funk Photography for violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
“Arkansans paying for services expect to get what they pay for,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Companies like Jonathan Funk Photography and their owners who act dishonestly will not be tolerated in Arkansas. Jonathan Funk Photography willfully chose to deceive and violate the trust of many Arkansans, and I will continue to prosecute companies that take advantage of Arkansans’ hard-earned money.”
Jonathan Funk Photography advertised its business in many local Arkansas magazines offering photography services and professional portraits of newborns and special events. Consumers paid in full after their photography session and waited patiently for several months, never receiving the portraits Jonathan Funk Photography promised to deliver. As a result, Arkansans lost money and, more importantly, lost the memories they sought to capture.
The Attorney General’s Office discovered at least 13 affected Arkansans impacted by the Funks’ deception. Consumers report they tried to work with Funk to receive their portraits with no success. In most cases, consumers communicated with Funk up to a year attempting to retrieve their purchased portraits. Most consumers have lost more than $1,000, and some paid up to $2,000 for portraits they have not received.
Rutledge is asking the court to impose civil penalties, restitution for the affected consumers, attorneys’ fees, costs, an injunction, and other relief against Jonathan Funk Photography. Violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act carry civil penalties up to $10,000 for each violation.
The lawsuit was filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court.
Arkansans can file consumer complaints with the Attorney General’s Office on ArkansasAG.gov or by calling (800) 482-8982.
Attorney General’s Office Holds Office Hours in All 75 Counties for Fourth Year in a RowThu, Oct 18, 2018
DE QUEEN – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today held office hours in Sevier County which concludes the fourth consecutive year she has hosted mobile offices in all 75 counties.
“My mobile office initiative has expanded over the years, but making the office accessible to Arkansans where they are remains the goal,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “It is important that Arkansans know they do not have to drive to downtown Little Rock to file a consumer complaint face to face, or a safe location to drop off their prescription drugs. Each year, my mobile office initiative has expanded and it will continue to evolve as I see more opportunities to educate and protect Arkansans statewide.”
Since 2015, over 325 statewide mobile offices have provided Office of Attorney General services to over 3,400 Arkansas consumers providing unprecedented levels of access. Rutledge has also personally met with 3,240 Arkansans at Rutledge Roundtables during her term.
Mobile offices provide a location to personally assist consumers in filing consumer complaints and answer questions about the full range of services provided by the Attorney General’s Office. This year, the Cooperative Extension Service was also on hand at each mobile office to offer information on its services.
Attorney General Rutledge created the mobile office initiative in May 2015 so that her office and staff would be accessible to everyone, and after the success of the initiative in 2015, Rutledge expanded to include Prescription Drug Take Back boxes. The officer partners with local law enforcement agencies across the State to handle a secure box and properly dispose of the prescriptions collected. Since the addition of this service, the boxes have allowed authorities to properly dispose of nearly 620 pounds of old or unused medications.
For more information about services provided by the Attorney General’s office, visit ArkansasAG.gov or call (501) 682-2007. Rutledge can also be found on Facebook at facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge and on Twitter at twitter.com/AGRutledge.
Rutledge Announces Two Medicaid Fraud ArrestsTue, Oct 16, 2018
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the arrest of a Benton County woman and a Randolph County woman on unrelated Medicaid Fraud charges.
Angela Miller, 36, of Bentonville, is accused of stealing hydrocodone and oxycodone pills while working at a northwest Arkansas facility in December 2017 and January 2018. Following an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office, Miller was arrested. She is charged with one count of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, a Class D felony.
Cindy Bass, 32, of Pocahontas, is accused of fraudulently billing for unauthorized services and for altering documents in order to bill for services prior to authorization, in an amount totaling $12,132.00. Bass is charged with one count of Medicaid fraud and turned herself in to the Pulaski County Sherriff’s Office.
“As Arkansas has been devastated by the opioid epidemic,” says Attorney General Rutledge. “I will continue prosecuting prescription drug theft as well as fraudulent activities that take away essential services from Arkansans in need.”
The Miller case is being prosecuted by Fourth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Matt Durrett. The Bass case was referred to the Attorney General’s Office by the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General and the Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting in cooperation with the 6th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Annual Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit to be Held November 1Mon, Oct 15, 2018
Offering livestream at six UAMS facilities
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that the seventh annual Arkansas Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit will be held Nov. 1 at the Hot Springs Convention Center.
This year, Attorney General Rutledge is also livestreaming plenary sessions and the clinical track to six locations across the state to reach more health care providers who may come in contact with prescription drug abusers. The sessions will be livestreamed to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock, UAMS North Central in Batesville, UAMS East Campus in Helena-West Helena, UAMS West Campus in Fort Smith, UAMS Northwest Campus in Fayetteville and UAMS Campus in Magnolia.
A record 1,025 have already taken advantage of early bird registration. Registration is open, but seating is limited for the event, a free training and educational opportunity for law enforcement officers, medical professionals, pharmacists and educators. Members of the general public may also attend and will have the opportunity to hear from experts regarding prescription drug abuse prevention and treatments.
“I am proud to offer these educational opportunities for Arkansans who combat addiction every day,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This annual event brings together over 1,000 Arkansans from every corner of the State to learn and work together.”
The all-day summit will include breakout sessions on timely topics, including e-prescribing and opioids in the workplace. After lunch, additional breakout sessions will discuss local and statewide efforts to fight the epidemic, along with a survivor’s panel.
Rutledge will host a luncheon, which will include a presentation from State Drug Director Kirk Lane.
Afternoon plenary sessions will highlight over-the-counter medications. The final session will feature a panel of parents who have lost children to the epidemic or who have children now battling addiction.
In addition to the Attorney General’s Office, the Summit is being sponsored by the Arkansas Board of Pharmacy, Arkansas Division of Adult Aging and Behavioral Health Services, Arkansas State Nursing Board, Arkansas State Police, Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, Office of the State Drug Director, Rotary Clubs of Arkansas, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the University of Arkansas Criminal Justice Institute.
A complete agenda can be found at ArkansasAG.gov.