Rutledge Successfully Defends Law to Protect Arkansas PatientsTue, Mar 29, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge earlier this month prevailed in a case, Baptist Health Systems v. Rutledge, that kept in place Act 766 of 2013, also known as the Arkansas Peer Review Fairness Act. The State Supreme Court agreed in a 5-2 decision with Rutledge’s request not to consider the Act’s constitutionality because the three hospitals challenging it had not alleged that the statute was harming them and it would be inappropriate for the Court to offer judgment.
“This was an important case to ensure that Arkansans receive the highest quality health care,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Act 766, which was duly passed by the General Assembly, is a proper way to protect the peer-review process in the State’s health care institutions. Peer review is accepted as the most effective means of monitoring quality and improving patient care, and it is essential to preserving the highest standards for Arkansas’s health care providers.”
Rutledge Disappointed Labor Department Moves Forward with Rule Harming Small BusinessesWed, Mar 23, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today released a statement following the U.S. Department of Labor releasing the final version of the Persuader Advice Exemption Rule, which would force small businesses to disclose communications with outside counsel in labor relations matters.
“I am disappointed in the administration’s action to move forward with a final rule, which would undermine long-standing protections for confidential attorney-client communications,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The administration ignored the concern raised by attorneys generals that the requirements contained in this rule will fall squarely on the backs of Arkansas small businesses, and failure to comply could result in heavy penalties. Rules like this will continue to discourage job growth and hinder economic development. My office will continue to review the final rule.”
The final rule comes after Rutledge and 12 others states sent a letter to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget voicing opposition to the proposed rule. The attorneys general believed the rule would place undue burdens on small businesses, which would be singled out under the rule.
The attorneys general pointed out that for more than 50 years, the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act has preserved the confidentiality of attorney-client communications by exempting attorney advice relating to labor relations issues from disclosure.
Rutledge Announces Child Safety Poster Contest WinnersThu, Mar 17, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced the winners of the 2016 Child Safety Poster Contest at a ceremony last night. The theme of the contest, sponsored by the Attorney General’s office, was Bring Our Missing Children Home.
“I want to thank all of the students, families and teachers who participated and congratulate the poster contest winners from Cabot, Little Rock, Mena and Pine Bluff,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I appreciate the safety discussions this contest created across the State. More than 500 entries were received and these creative students did an excellent job highlighting this year’s theme. I am extremely impressed by the talent of our young Arkansans.”
Attorney General Rutledge also extended her appreciation to the contest judges: Melinda Faubel with AT&T, Cynthia Haas with the Arkansas Arts Council and Paul Leopoulos with the Thea Foundation. AT&T helped sponsor the contest, and the Thea Foundation hosted the awards ceremony.
- Brookelynn Anders, Edgewood Elementary School (Pine Bluff), 1st Place
- Jeimy Garcia, Edgewood Elementary School (Pine Bluff), 2nd Place
- Ja’Breya Spellman, Edgewood Elementary School (Pine Bluff), 3rd Place
- Ryan Howard, Edgewood Elementary School (Pine Bluff), 1st Place
- Za’Miyah Litzsey, Edgewood Elementary School (Pine Bluff), 2nd Place
- Elijah Watson, Edgewood Elementary School (Pine Bluff), 3rd Place
- Pablo Vazquez, Carver Magnet Elementary School (Little Rock), 1st Place
- Burcu Karabacak, Carver Magnet Elementary School (Little Rock), 1st Place
- Addison Thomas, Holly Harshman Elementary School (Mena), 2nd Place
- McKenzie Knighten, Holly Harshman Elementary School (Mena), 3rd Place
- Avalyn Sexton, Holly Harshman Elementary School (Mena), 3rd Place
- Hailey Emerson, Holly Harshman Elementary School (Mena), 1st Place
- Myla Nelms, Western Hills Elementary School (Little Rock), 2nd Place
- Psalm Wistrand, Pulaski Heights Elementary School (Little Rock), 3rd Place
- Mason Smith, Cabot Middle School North (Cabot), 1st Place
- Layla Sessler, Holly Harshman Elementary School (Mena), 2nd Place
- Emma Johnson, Holly Harshman Elementary School (Mena), 3rd Place
The winning fifth grade poster, submitted by Mason Smith, will be entered into the National Missing Children’s Day Poster Contest, hosted by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Arkansas to Receive Settlement to Resolve Kickback Allegations Against a New Jersey based Pharmaceutical CompanyWed, Mar 16, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units joined the federal government to reach an agreement in principle with the pharmaceutical manufacturer Daiichi Sankyo, Inc., a global pharmaceutical company with its U.S. headquarters in New Jersey, to settle allegations that the company violated the False Claims Act. Rutledge released the following statement:
“Arkansas is set to receive $15,459.81 from a multi-state settlement reached with Daiichi Sankyo, Inc. The Arkansas Medicaid Trust Fund, which incurred losses as a result of this fraud, will be reimbursed. This pharmaceutical company violated the False Claims Act by using meals and speaker program honoraria as incentives to entice physicians to prescribe the drugs Azor, Benicar, Tribenzor and Welchol.”
Daiichi Sankyo will pay the states and the federal government a total of $39 million in civil damages and penalties for Medicaid and other federally-funded health care programs.
The investigation that led to the settlement grew out of a false claims action filed by a former Daiichi Sankyo sales representative in 2010. The whistleblower’s complaint alleged that the claims were false because they resulted from kickbacks that Daiichi Sankyo provided to physicians who prescribed the drugs.
The settlement agreement reimburses the federal government and the participating states for damages that were assessed in accordance with the amounts that Daiichi Sankyo expended on each speaker program for each fiscal year. The total Medicaid portion of the settlement – state and federal – is $10 million; and the states’ share of the Medicaid recovery is $5 million. Additionally, as part of the settlement, Daiichi Sankyo has agreed to enter into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), which obligates Daiichi Sankyo to undertake substantial internal compliance reforms for the next five years.
Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia are participating in the settlement. The federal settlement was announced by the Justice Department in January of this year.
Arkansas’s portion of the settlement will be placed in the Arkansas Medicaid Trust Fund.
Rutledge Statement on the Nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme CourtWed, Mar 16, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement today in response to President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court to fill the vacancy left by the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia.
“With the unfortunate passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, the future direction of the U.S. Supreme Court is at stake,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Today, President Obama has chosen to nominate Judge Merrick Garland. The President has this right, but the U.S. Senate has an equal right to advise and consent on this nomination and that right includes choosing not to act on the nomination. In the midst of a highly contested presidential election, Americans deserve their chance to weigh in on the appropriate direction for the Court, and I am optimistic that will occur in November.”
Rutledge Applauds CDC for Adopting Guidelines for Prescribing Pain MedicationsWed, Mar 16, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today applauded the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for acting quickly to adopt federal guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain. The adoption comes after Rutledge and 35 other State attorneys general in January urged the CDC to approve the proposed guidelines.
“The CDC has acted quickly so that physicians have the tools and knowledge they need to properly prescribe medication,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “There are serious dangers associated with chronic pain medications, but when prescribed effectively they can be the best treatment. However, the problem of prescription drug abuse cannot be ignored, and I will continue building on the successful State and local partnerships to increase public safety and save lives.”
According to the CDC, the U.S. is currently experiencing an epidemic of prescription opioid misuse and overdose. Increased prescribing and sales of opioids — a quadrupling since 1999 — helped create and fuel this epidemic. The CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, United States, 2016, will help primary care providers ensure the safest and most effective treatment for their patients.
Among the 12 recommendations in the guideline, three principles are key to improving patient care:
- Nonopioid therapy is preferred for chronic pain outside of active cancer, palliative, and end-of-life care.
- When opioids are used, the lowest possible effective dosage should be prescribed to reduce risks of opioid use disorder and overdose.
- Providers should always exercise caution when prescribing opioids and monitor all patients closely.
The CDC developed user-friendly materials to assist providers with implementing the recommendations, including a decision checklist. These materials, as well as information for patients, are available at CDC.gov.
Rutledge has been vocal about the problem of prescription drug abuse in Arkansas. Since taking office, she has partnered with local law enforcement agencies to hold Drug Take Back Days, encouraging Arkansas to clean out their medicine cabinets of unused and expired medications to be properly disposed of by law enforcement and now she offered those same drug take back services at each mobile office held throughout the State. She also partnered with the Arkansas Office of the Drug Director, Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy and the Criminal Justice Institute to host the annual Prescription Drug Abuse Summit last November in which participants learned about more research and strategies to fight prescription drug misuse and abuse.