Joint Federal-State Partnership Launches to Fight Disability FraudTue, Aug 18, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today launched the Arkansas Cooperative Disability Investigations Program, or CDI, to fight Social Security disability fraud across the state. CDI is a joint effort among federal and state agencies to effectively pool resources for the purpose of preventing fraud in the disability programs administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and in related programs.
Rutledge was joined by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, State Sen. Missy Irvin and Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General Special Agent-in-Charge Robert Feldt at the announcement.
“Arkansas ranks in the top five among states with the highest number of Social Security Disability beneficiaries,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Fraud hurts Arkansans in need and we have to stop those who are cheating and scamming the system. When I took office, I made a commitment to protect consumers. Stopping disability fraud protects all Arkansans.”
“I applaud Attorney General Rutledge and her commitment to fighting disability fraud in Arkansas,” said Gov. Asa Hutchinson. “It is critical that we can ensure the integrity of the Social Security programs. As a result of this state and federal partnership, Arkansas can protect this important program and combat fraud. I look forward to creating greater efficiencies through this statewide initiative and better serving beneficiaries of the Social Security Disability program in Arkansas.”
“Social Security Disability is a critically important program for the disabled and needs to be preserved for those who truly deserve it,” said State Sen. Missy Irvin. “The program is estimated to have a deficiency in funds to claimants as soon as 2016. With Arkansas having the 5th highest percentage of its population in the nation on Social Security, we must take steps now to secure the future of this program for those who truly need it, eliminate those who are abusing it and be good stewards of the taxpayers' dollars.”
“In our continuing effort to stamp out waste, fraud, and abuse within Social Security programs, the Office of the Inspector General is pleased to partner with the Arkansas Attorney General's Office on the Cooperative Disability Investigation Unit in Little Rock,” said Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General Special Agent-in-Charge Robert Feldt.
Arkansas Cooperative Disability Investigations Program Background
- The Cooperative Disability Investigations Program, or CDI, is a joint effort among federal and state agencies to effectively pool resources for the purpose of preventing fraud in the disability programs administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and in related programs.
- The mission is to investigate questionable statements and activities of claimants, medical providers and other third parties to obtain evidence of material fact sufficient to resolve questions of potential fraud in disability programs.
- The Arkansas CDI will be run jointly by the SSA Dallas Regional Office, the SSA Office of the Inspector General, the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office and the Arkansas Disability Determination for SSA.
- CDI benefits SSA and taxpayers by improving the integrity of Social Security’s programs, promoting the solvency of the Social Security Trust Funds and by helping public assistance programs reduce fraud, waste and abuse.
- Since its inception in Fiscal Year 1998, existing CDI Units in other states have contributed to $3.1 billion in projected savings to SSA’s disability programs and $1.9 billion in projected savings to non-SSA programs – including state-funded programs such as Medicaid.
- SSA will pay for the Arkansas CDI participant salaries, benefits and vehicles.
- The Arkansas CDI Unit will be located in the Little Rock, Arkansas, Federal Building.
- The Arkansas CDI Unit will consist of these individuals:
- One SSA Inspector General, Special Agent/Team Leader
- One SSA CDI Program Specialist
- One Arkansas Disability Determination for SSA Specialist
- Two Arkansas Attorney General Medicaid Fraud Control Unit Special Agents (law enforcement)
- One Arkansas Attorney General Medicaid Fraud Control Unit Investigative Assistant
- The Unit will work to evaluate and investigate suspicious claims, identify lawyers, doctors or other third parties who facilitate fraud, identify areas susceptible to fraud and provide investigative findings that help SSA and state personnel make accurate and timely claims decisions.
- The Unit’s findings may also result in criminal or civil prosecution, civil monetary penalties of up to $5,000 for each false statement made and SSA administrative sanctions, including benefit withholding.
- The Program currently consists of 28 Units covering 24 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico – nine of those units have Attorneys General as a participating agency.
Rutledge Announces Medicaid Fraud Arrest of Craighead County ManMon, Aug 17, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced the arrest of a Craighead County man by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.
Emmitt Paul Milam, 45, of Jonesboro was arrested on one count of Medicaid fraud. Milam was booked into the Pulaski County Jail where he posted bond and was released. He is accused of billing the Arkansas Medicaid Program more than $55,000 for services that were not rendered, a Class B felony.
Medicaid fraud occurs when Medicaid providers use the Medicaid program to obtain money to which they are not entitled.
Rutledge Joins with 14 Other States Asking Court to Stay the EPA’s Clean Power PlanFri, Aug 14, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced she has joined a coalition of 15 State Attorneys General in asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to issue an emergency stay that would postpone deadlines imposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan while the plan’s legality is determined by the courts.
“Because of the deadlines and obligations included in the Clean Power Plan, Arkansas must begin to use money and resources to attempt to become compliant despite the rule having not been published in the Federal Register,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansas should not have to move forward with the burdensome and costly regulations of the Clean Power Plan until the legality of the rule is determined. Unfortunately, the EPA has not published the rule yet preventing Arkansas and other States from challenging the rule on the merits. I’m confident the legal challenge will show the EPA has gone far beyond the scope intended by the Clean Air Act.”
Typically, a stay of a federal rule would not be sought until the lawsuit challenging it is filed, which would usually occur once the rule is published in the Federal Register. In most cases, the obligations imposed by a new rule are tied to the date of publication.
However, in this case, the Attorneys General argue, the EPA has made the unusual choice to make the States’ obligations effective immediately. Regardless of the date of formal publication, the States already have firm deadlines to submit initial and final compliance plans under the rule. Because it could be months before the 1,560-page rule is published, the Attorneys General believe court precedent makes clear that a request for a stay at this time is appropriate in order to prevent States from having to expend significant taxpayer resources to begin complying with the rule.
Earlier this month, Rutledge asked the EPA for an administrative stay of the Clean Power Plan while its legality was reviewed by the courts. The EPA responded saying it would take the request “under consideration,” but the agency has yet to act on that request.
Rutledge was joined in petition by the States of Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming, and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
A copy of the petition is available here.
Rutledge Announces Settlement with Accredo PharmacyThu, Aug 13, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that a settlement has been reached to resolve kickback allegations against Accredo Health Group Inc. The agreement resolves claims that Accredo recommended the drug Exjade to Medicaid patients in exchange for kickbacks from Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., which markets the drug.
Under the terms of the settlement, Accredo has agreed to pay $60 million to the federal government and over $40 million to States. Arkansas has received $141,202.35 under the settlement deposited into the Medicaid Program Trust Fund.
“Accredo used so-called health care professionals to encourage patients to continue taking a drug with severe side effects so that it could continue receiving high-dollar fees and rebates,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Accredo simply ignored the health and well-being of its patients.”
When Novartis launched Exjade, it created a closed distribution network, consisting of three pharmacies, through which most Exjade prescriptions in the United States were filled. As a result, Novartis controlled which pharmacy filled many of the prescriptions for Exjade. The settlement resolves allegations that Accredo participated in a scheme in which Novartis paid kickbacks to pharmacies by giving more prescription referrals to the pharmacy that kept patients on Exjade the longest.
Accredo, a specialty pharmacy headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Medco Health Solutions Inc. ships prescription drugs to Medicaid patients around the country. Exjade was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2005 for the treatment of chronic iron overload due to blood transfusions. In complaints filed in the case, several States and the federal government have alleged that Novartis developed the scheme because Exjade patients often stopped taking the drug because of side effects.
The settlement stems from a whistleblower lawsuit, U.S. ex rel. Kester, et al. v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, et al., which is pending in federal court in New York. The case was filed under the federal False Claims Act and similar State false claims acts.
The state settlements were negotiated by a team of States led by representatives from the Offices of the Attorneys General for California and New York.
Rutledge Statement on the Resignation of Arkansas Chief Justice Jim HannahThu, Aug 13, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement today in response to Arkansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Hannah’s announcement that he will step down from the Court at the end of August due to health problems.
“Chief Justice Jim Hannah is a highly respected attorney and judge,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Through his service as a prosecuting attorney, city attorney, juvenile judge, chancery and probate judge, justice and now chief justice, Jim Hannah has served the people of Arkansas with humility and wisdom. Chief Justice Hannah consistently provided a fair and impartial approach to any question or case brought before him, and his leadership of the Court will be greatly missed. 1 Peter 5:7 says, ‘Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.’ I pray that the Lord will bring strength and courage to Chief Justice Hannah and his wife, Pat, during this time, and I wish him a full and speedy recovery.”
Rutledge Announces Mobile Office Locations for Remainder of AugustWed, Aug 12, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced mobile office locations for the remainder of August.
Attorney General Rutledge created the mobile office initiative to make the office accessible to everyone, particularly to those who live outside the capital city.
The mobile offices assist constituents with consumer-related issues in filing consumer complaints against scam artists. Attorney General Rutledge believes there is no issue too small for her staff to have a face-to-face conversation.
For more information about services provided by the Attorney General’s Office, visit ArkansasAG.gov or call 501-682-2007 or 800-482-8982. Rutledge can also be found on Facebook at facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge and on Twitter at twitter.com/AGRutledge.
The upcoming mobile office schedule is below:
Tuesday, Aug. 18
10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Howard County Senior Citizens Center
206 E. Howard St.
Nashville, AR 71852
Tuesday, Aug. 18
1:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Murfreesboro City Hall
204 E. Main St.
Murfreesboro, AR 71958
Thursday, Aug. 20
10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Carroll County Senior Activity and Wellness Center
202 W. Madison Ave.
Berryville, AR 72616
Thursday, Aug. 20
2 – 4 p.m.
Madison County Senior Activity and Wellness Center
903 N. College St.
Huntsville, AR 72740
Wednesday, Aug. 26
10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Paragould Community Center
3404 Linwood Drive
Paragould, AR 72450
Wednesday, Aug. 26
2 – 4 p.m.
Earl Bell Community Center
1212 S. Church St.
Jonesboro, AR 72401