Rutledge Announces First-in-the-Nation Initiative Aimed at Preventing Prescription Drug AbuseTue, Jul 25, 2017
‘Prescription for Life’ curriculum will be available to all high school students this fall
ROGERS – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced today at the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association meeting in Rogers a first-in-the-nation education initiative called “Prescription for Life” featuring a digital platform to be offered at no cost to all high school students in the State to help them understand the dangers of prescription drug misuse and how to prevent abuse.
“Talking about the harmful impact of prescription drug abuse with children and teenagers can no longer be a goal. It has to be a reality,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansas ranks first in the nation for ages 12 to 17 in misuse of painkillers. Reversing this trend is a top priority of mine. Prescription for Life will be available to every high school student in Arkansas beginning this fall.”
Prescription for Life will come at no cost to participating schools. Using an evidence-based public health approach, the digital course will empower high school students with the skills and knowledge they need to make safe and healthy decisions about prescription drugs. The course will be aligned with the Centers for Disease Control’s National Health Education Standards and State academic standards.
The self-paced modular course will use video, animations, simulations and interactivity to deliver a personalized, self-guided learning experience. The real-life simulations will demonstrate the impact misuse can have on students’ physical and mental health, relationships and future goals while the scenario-based exercises will help students practice how to support other students in their choices regarding the safe use of prescription drugs.
Educator trainings will be hosted to ensure effective classroom integration and pre- and post-assessments will be used to measure changes in students attitudes and behavior. Educators from the Attorney General’s office will 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 has been meeting with families in recent weeks who have lost loved ones to prescription drugs or have been deeply affected by this national epidemic. As she has listened to their stories, Rutledge asked them for feedback and shared her vision to make Prescription for Life available in Arkansas’s 298 public high schools. The program will also be offered to homeschool networks and to interested Arkansas parochial and private schools.
Scott Doerhoff, who lost his son, Will, to a prescription drug addiction and overdose last year said, “Initiating drug education in Arkansas high schools will create the opportunity for a new culture of awareness and safety for our kids and educate them on the life threatening risk of not only illegal substance abuse but also illicit prescription drug use which is often and extraneously, thought of as being a ‘safe’ way to use substances. The William Christian Doerhoff Memorial Foundation and Parent Advocacy Group applaud Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and her staff for their commitment and leadership in protecting Arkansas children.
“The Arkansas Attorney General's office and the Drug Enforcement Administration have joined forces to combat a growing epidemic of prescription opioid misuse and heroin use nationwide,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Matthew R. Barden. This important initiative is to educate students about the true impacts of opioids and kick-start lifesaving conversations in the home and classroom. DEA is committed to supporting all educational efforts that provide classroom resources and prevention tools to educators and parents that aim to introduce students to the science behind opioids and their impact on the brain and body.”
“Stemming the tide of the prescription drug abuse epidemic begins with education,” said Arkansas Surgeon General Greg Bledsoe. “Our people – particularly our young people – need to be aware of the high risks associated with prescription drug abuse. I applaud the work of Attorney General Rutledge in initiating this important educational project.”
“Education is critical to combatting prescription drug abuse,” Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Johnny Key said. “This new program will complement the Arkansas School Health Services Initiative’s efforts to educate students about the harmful effects of prescription drug abuse. We welcome opportunities to partner together to find solutions for issues that affect schools, families and communities.”
“Prescription for Life is an innovative training concept designed to prepare our younger generations to keep their selves, friends, and communities safe from substance abuse,” said Arkansas State Drug Director designee and Benton Police Chief Kirk Lane. “Education and community involvement is the key to resolving the issues of substance use disorder.”
The new education curriculum will be added to 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 145 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 720 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 Announces Oklahoma Man Sentenced for Medicaid FraudFri, Jul 21, 2017
Says, ‘He will be required to pay the money back to the Arkansas Medicaid Program’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the conviction of a Pocola, Oklahoma man for Medicaid fraud. Shawn Howard pleaded guilty in Pulaski County Circuit Court and was sentenced to five years in the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC), with an additional 15 years suspended. He will pay $23,980 in restitution to the Arkansas Medicaid Program if and when he is paroled. His sentence will run consecutively to a separate case prosecuted in Sebastian County.
“Shawn Howard took advantage of the Medicaid system and a vulnerable Arkansan,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The attorneys and investigators at the Attorney General’s office continue to work diligently to investigate and prosecute people like Mr. Howard. He will be required to pay the money back to the Arkansas Medicaid Program after his release.”
Howard, 46, of Pocola pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud, a Class B felony, and Theft of Property by Deception, a Class C felony, for billing the Arkansas Medicaid Program for services not rendered from August 2014 to February 2015.
Howard is currently being held in the ADC, after pleading guilty for a murder in 2015 related to the care of a Fort Smith Medicaid recipient.
The Attorney General’s office conducted the Medicaid fraud investigation in cooperation with the Office of the 12th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Shue, the Office of the 6th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley and the Fort Smith Police Department.
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 Statement on Sarah Huckabee Sanders Being Named White House Press SecretaryFri, Jul 21, 2017
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today issued a statement following the announcement that Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be the new White House Press Secretary.
“I am proud of my talented friend Sarah Huckabee Sanders,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Sarah will be an outstanding White House Press Secretary communicating to Americans the important work of this Administration. I applaud President Trump on this decision and know that Sarah will be a significant asset to the millions of Americans she will impact through her service.”
Rutledge Welcomes EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to ArkansasThu, Jul 20, 2017
Visit comes just weeks after decision to re-evaluate WOTUS rule
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge welcomed her former colleague and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt to Arkansas as part of his state action tour.
Pruitt held a meeting today at the Capitol with Rutledge, Gov. Asa Hutchinson, State Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward and Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality Director Becky Keogh to discuss his action in June to rescind the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule and the EPA’s approval of Arkansas’s 303D water quality standards that list impaired waters for the State, dating back to 2010. As a result of the State’s efforts, 76 percent of water bodies impaired in 2008 are no longer showing impairments and a total of 335 waters are now meeting Arkansas Water Quality Standards. Pruitt also held a breakfast roundtable hosted by the Arkansas Poultry Federation.
“I am proud to welcome EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to the Natural State,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Administrator Pruitt’s decision last month to completely re-evaluate the WOTUS rule, minimizing the regulatory burden on countless landowners, demonstrates his commitment to building stronger relationships with state partners. Preserving and protecting our clean air and clean water through a cooperative, lawful and thoughtful process based on science and data is a priority for Arkansas.”
Pruitt’s visit to Arkansas comes after Rutledge met with Pruitt at the EPA Headquarters during a recent visit to Washington, D.C. Rutledge also last week hosted a conference call in which over 45 of her state attorneys general colleagues participated for a chance to hear directly from Pruitt about his mission for the EPA and to ask him questions about various rules and regulations.
Because the EPA under the previous administration had chosen to ignore the clear intent of the laws passed by Congress and comments submitted in opposition to proposed rules, Rutledge was previously forced to challenge the so-called Clean Power Plan, which included winning a historic and unprecedented stay at the U.S. Supreme Court; WOTUS, which included a nationwide stay blocking enforcement; Federal Implementation Plan for Regional Haze; Mercury and Air Toxics Standards; Startup, Shutdown and Malfunction standard changes for State Implementation Plans; and the Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
Rutledge has also recommended to Pruitt the repeal, replacement or modification of the following Obama era rules: the so-called Clean Power Plan, Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, Oil and Gas Methane New Source Performance Standards and the Greenhouse Gas Reporting rule.
Attorneys General Urge Full Fifth Circuit to Hear Planned Parenthood CaseWed, Jul 19, 2017
Says, ‘Patients are not only entitled to satisfactory care through ethical and responsible providers, but they should never be treated as pawns in an administrative process’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is leading a coalition of 15 states in filing an amicus brief
in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, urging an en banc rehearing of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast Inc. v. Gee, which could have sweeping consequences on the abilities of states to enforce the rules of the Medicaid program.
The case at the 5th Circuit is similar to a case out of Arkansas involving a fight to terminate Planned Parenthood as a provider of Medicaid services after videos surfaced, alleging Planned Parenthood could be involved in selling aborted fetal body parts for profit. A three-judge panel at the 8th Circuit has heard oral argument in the Arkansas case and a decision is pending.
“Patients are not only entitled to satisfactory care through ethical and responsible providers, but they should never be treated as pawns in an administrative process,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “If Planned Parenthood, or any Medicaid provider, feels it has been wrongly terminated it should follow the proper process as established by Congress to address the problem.”
A sharply divided three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit ruled that a single patient has the authority to attack a state agency’s decision to disqualify, or terminate, a provider from the Medicaid program for misconduct. The panel’s decision means that a patient may even bring such a challenge where the provider itself intentionally did not appeal the disqualification and the supervising agency of the federal government did not object to the action of the state.
Rutledge and her colleagues believe that the full 5th Circuit should hear this case because of its far-reaching impact and consequences it will have on the states. The attorneys general write, “one could easily imagine a patient challenging a provider’s disqualification even after the federal government, state government and the provider itself all affirmatively agreed to the penalty. There is simply no reason to believe Congress would have given a patient (collectively millions of patients) the ability to interfere in the highly complex administrative process between the federal government, the state government and the provider regarding enforcement of the technical rules of the Medicaid program.”
Rutledge and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton co-lead the brief and were joined by the attorneys general of Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Wisconsin and West Virginia, as well as the Governors of Kentucky and Mississippi.
Rutledge Announces North Little Rock Man Sentenced for Crimes Involving ChildrenWed, Jul 19, 2017
Facing up to 300 years in Department of Correction
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced today that a Pulaski County man is facing up to 300 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction and a potential fine of up to $300,000 on child exploitation charges.
David Wayne Davis, 64, of North Little Rock, was found guilty by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen of 30 counts of distributing, possessing or viewing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving children.
“The actions of David Davis are disgusting,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Partnerships across the state make it possible to get these criminals out of our neighborhoods and off the internet. This conviction shows that the State of Arkansas will hold these predators accountable and protect our children.”
Davis was arrested in 2015 on a search warrant executed by the Attorney General’s Cyber Crimes Unit. Attorneys from the Attorney General’s office were appointed by the 6th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley as special deputy prosecutors. Davis is free on $25,000 bail until sentencing, which is scheduled for Sept. 11.