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Rutledge Fighting Opioid Incentives

Rutledge Fighting Opioid Incentives

Mon, Sep 18, 2017

Calls on insurance companies to give proper consideration to incentivizing non-opioid treatments

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge co-led a bipartisan coalition of 37 states and territories urging health insurance companies to examine financial incentives that contribute to the opioid epidemic in Arkansas and across the country. Rutledge is encouraging a two-step strategy with insurance companies intended to identify problematic policies and encourage reforms to spur increased use of non-opioid alternatives for treatment of chronic, non-cancer pain.

Describing the opioid epidemic as “the preeminent public health crisis of our time,” the 37 attorneys general sent a letter to industry trade groups and major insurance providers nationwide. It urges insurers to review their coverage and payment policies as the starting point in a coalition-initiated dialogue focused on incentive structures across the insurance industry.

“The only way to defeat the opioid crisis is with an all-of-the-above approach, and that includes working with the insurance industry and examining their incentive structures,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I am hopeful that insurance companies, like so many stakeholders, will recognize the gravity of the epidemic and give proper consideration to incentivizing non-opioid treatments.”

The attorneys general, in acknowledging the important role insurance companies play in reducing opioid prescriptions, hope to assess the positive and negative impacts incentive structures have on the opioid epidemic. Rutledge and her colleagues contend the incentives that promote use of non-opioid therapies will increase the practicality of medical providers considering such treatments.

Increased reliance on these alternatives will combat a significant factor contributing to the epidemic – the over-prescription of opioid painkillers. The letter notes the number of opioid prescriptions have quadrupled since 1999, despite the amount of pain reported by Americans remaining steady. 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.

Rutledge co-sponsored the letter, which was led by the West Virginia Attorney General, along with attorneys general from Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, Utah and Virginia.

Other attorneys general signing the letter are Arizona, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin.

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Rutledge Issues Urgent Warning on Equifax and Con Artists

Rutledge Issues Urgent Warning on Equifax and Con Artists

Mon, Sep 18, 2017

Says, ‘Criminals are going to call and email Arkansans looking to exploit the exposure of their personal information’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today is warning Arkansans to be on alert as the Equifax data breach will likely lead to hacking and phishing attempts from con artists and criminals, both over the phone and online. Rutledge, who has taken on a leading role and is working with other states as part of a thorough review, has learned that at least 1.2 million Arkansans may be impacted.

“Criminals are going to call and email Arkansans looking to exploit the exposure of their personal information,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Just because someone calls claiming to be from Equifax or emails claiming to be a bank does not mean they are. Arkansans should stay vigilant as I work with other states to get to the bottom of how and why this data breach occurred.”

Arkansans should be on the lookout for phishing emails that claim to be Equifax and offering to check if your data is compromised, emails that claim a problem has occurred with a credit card or bank, calls or emails from a scammer claiming to be your bank and any unexpected charges on a credit or debit card.

If you have been a victim of identity theft, close accounts that have been tampered with or fraudulently opened and file a complaint with the FTC. The Attorney General’s office also offers an ID Theft Passport to help victims reestablish their good name.

Arkansans can visit ArkansasAG.gov to get the latest information about the breach.

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Rutledge Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Reaffirm Individual Free Speech

Rutledge Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Reaffirm Individual Free Speech

Thu, Sep 14, 2017

Says, ‘These unique and important freedoms must be protected’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, calling on the court to protect the freedom of speech of a baker in Colorado. The brief calls on the Court to follow through on the commitment it made in Obergefell to protect this fundamental right.

“An individual’s free speech must be protected by the government, not threatened,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The Supreme Court has routinely protected free speech and the religious conscience rights of citizens – aspects of our freedom that make this country unique to its core. These unique and important freedoms must be protected.”

The justices will hear arguments in Masterpiece Cake Shop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission later this year. The owner of Masterpiece Cake Shop in Lakewood, CO declined to bake a wedding cake for a local same-sex couple. Owner Jack Phillips indicated to the couple that he would be glad to make a birthday or graduation cake or a cake for any other occasion. But he could not, consistent with his religious views, design and create a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding. Phillips’ refusal to design and create such a cake is consistent with his refusal to create cakes for Halloween or divorcee parties – events that his religious beliefs prevent him from supporting.

As the coalition notes, “This compulsion of speech is constitutionality forbidden. And for good reason: Government power to order individuals to speak in a manner that violates their conscience is fundamentally at odds with the freedom of expression and tolerance for a diversity of viewpoints that this Nation has long enjoyed and promoted.”

Rutledge has filed this brief after she co-led a 14-state coalition in filing an amicus brief with the Court urging the justices to grant review and protect the religious conscience rights of a Washington florist named Barronelle Stutzman.

Joining Rutledge on today’s brief, which was led by the state of Texas, are the attorneys general of Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin, along with the Commonwealth Of Kentucky, by and through Governor Matthew G. Bevin and Paul R. Le Page, Governor of Maine.

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Rutledge Announces Conviction of Randolph County Woman for Medicaid Fraud

Rutledge Announces Conviction of Randolph County Woman for Medicaid Fraud

Tue, Sep 12, 2017

Says, ‘Shirley Contreras repeatedly made fraudulent claims, stealing thousands from the Medicaid Trust fund’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the conviction of a Pocahontas woman for Medicaid fraud. Shirley Diane Contreras pleaded guilty in Pulaski County Circuit Court and was sentenced to three years of probation and was ordered to pay $5,514.04 in restitution and $2,500.00 in fines plus court costs. Contreras paid $3,000 in restitution to the Arkansas Medicaid Program Trust Fund today and will pay the remaining balance at a rate of $418 per month until paid in full.

“Shirley Contreras repeatedly made fraudulent claims, stealing thousands from the Medicaid Trust fund,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The care she claimed to have provided but never did harmed vulnerable Arkansans who were dependent on her for assistance. My staff of attorneys and investigators will continue to investigate and prosecute this fraud across the state.”

Contreras, 48, of Pocahontas pleaded guilty to Theft by Deception, a Class C felony. She was accused of billing for services not rendered to three Medicaid recipients from June 2014 to August 2015, including $2,895.29, a Class B felony; $1801.70, a Class C felony; and $817.05, a Class C felony.

The case was prosecuted in coordination with the 6th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley.

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 oag@arkansasag.gov.

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Rutledge Announces Speakers for 2017 Law Enforcement Summit

Rutledge Announces Speakers for 2017 Law Enforcement Summit

Tue, Sep 12, 2017

Will include the Indiana Attorney General and Boston Transit Police Officer Dic Donohue

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the full slate of speakers for the 15th Arkansas Law Enforcement Summit, which will be held on Oct. 3 at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock. The annual event is a free training and educational opportunity for Arkansas’s law enforcement community, including officers, prosecutors and criminal justice personnel.

“The instructional and networking opportunities that the Law Enforcement Summit presents are invaluable,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I encourage all officers to register to attend so they can hear and learn from these tremendous speakers.”

This year’s summit will begin with Boston Transit Police Officer Dic Donohue. Donohue was grievously injured in April 2013 during a gun battle with two suspects who were later identified as the Boston Marathon bombers. A bullet severed Donohue’s femoral artery and he suffered severe blood loss. He survived because fellow officers gave him immediate lifesaving care and prolonged CPR. Given a 2 percent chance to live, Donohue survived and has been recognized by over 20 law enforcement and civic organizations for his outstanding service. Donohue’s remarks and presentation will begin at 8:30 a.m.

Rutledge will also welcome her colleague Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, who will speak at 10:15 a.m. As Indiana’s chief legal officer, Hill oversees a staff of more than 400 employees spread across multiple divisions. Hill has focused his agenda on four priorities: rolling back federal overreach; protecting families from drugs and violent crime; safeguarding consumers from fraud and scams; and inspiring youth to pursue meaningful lives. Hill was serving his fourth term as Elkhart County prosecutor when he was elected to his current role on Nov. 8, 2016. He took office on Jan. 9, 2017. He earned both his bachelor’s and law degrees from Indiana University in Bloomington.

During a noon luncheon, Rutledge will again recognize one outstanding law enforcement officer from each county in addition to the statewide and regional award winners that will be announced.

The afternoon will include a presentation from the Attorney General’s office Legislative Director Cory Cox on changes to Arkansas law impacting the law enforcement community that occurred during the last regular session of the Arkansas General Assembly. AT&T Asset Protection Senior Investigator Peggy Fletcher and Arkansas Recycling Association General Counsel Walter Wright Jr. and Special Agent Stephen Svetz will speak about combating metal theft. The summit will conclude with a presentation from Deputy Attorney General Will Jones and Special Agent Chris Cone who will discuss forensic tools and techniques to combat cyber criminals.

Registration is open and available at ArkansasAG.gov.

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Rutledge Announces Arrest of Benton Woman for Medicaid Fraud
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