0
0
0
s2sdefault
powered by social2s

Virginia State Seal as part of the letterhead for the Attorney General.

Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

900 East Main Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219



For media inquiries only, contact:  
Brian J. Gottstein
Phone: (804)786-5874 
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (best contact method)

** CONSUMER ALERT **

Cuccinelli warns of scams linked to Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplace rollout

RICHMOND (October 16, 2013) - Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli warned today that in the wake of the October 1st rollout of the health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare), con artists are already scamming consumers with fake web sites and phone calls.

Consumers seeking insurance coverage through the online exchanges (also referred to as health insurance marketplaces) provide personal information to determine which plans are available to them and to sign up for coverage.

“Many citizens are mandated to buy insurance from this federal government-run exchange, and because they have to enter such detailed personal information online, scammers are finding this a target-rich environment to confuse people and steal their information in the process,” said Cuccinelli.  “Scammers are sending out official-looking emails with links that don’t go to the health insurance exchange, but to a bogus web site.  While people think they’re typing in detailed personal information to apply for health insurance, they’re actually giving scammers all the information they need to commit identity theft.”

The attorney general is warning Virginians about some of the possible ways scammers are attempting to commit fraud.  He offers the following tips:

  • Do not give personal information such as Medicare or Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, credit card or debit card numbers, or your home address in response to unsolicited telephone calls.

  • Only provide personal information if you initiate the contact.  No one from the government will call, email, or text you to sell you an insurance plan or ask for personal information.

  • Don't be swayed by high-pressure visits, mail solicitations, emails, texts, or phone calls from people pretending to work for the government.  No one should threaten you with legal action if you do not sign up for a plan. 

  • Ask for credentials from anyone who wants to assist you in enrolling.  In addition to your own licensed insurance agent, there are only two types of assistants who can help you sign up: Certified Application Counselors and Navigators. 

    • Certified Application Counselors – these are people who work for organizations such as hospitals and who have been certified by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

    • Navigators – these are individuals or organizations trained to assist consumers in understanding their insurance options.  The law forbids navigators from recommending specific health plans or coverage.  Navigators are funded through state and federal grant programs, and must complete comprehensive training.  There is no charge for their services.  You may locate a navigator in Virginia by visiting www.HealthCare.gov or by calling 1-800-318-2596. 
       
  • Beware of anyone asking for money to enroll you in a health insurance exchange.  If the individual is a legitimate health insurance assistant (a navigator or a certified application counselor), they will NEVER ask you for money.  Your insurance agent can accept premium payments, however.
     
  • Beware of anyone who tries to sell you an Obamacare insurance card.  It may be a trick to get your money but not enroll you in a health insurance plan.  You must actually apply for and enroll in a plan; you can’t just buy an insurance card.  Similarly, watch out for "fake" products such as prescription cards.  They may look real, but may only be medical discount cards.
     
  • Communicate directly with the official exchange when you are ready to purchase insurance.  Unless you are using a licensed insurance agent, navigator, or a certified application counselor, the only way to sign up is to use the official web sites found by going to www.HealthCare.gov or by calling 1-800-318-2596.  Avoid look-a-like web sites and look for web sites that have .gov on the end of the web site address.
     
  • If you are a Medicare beneficiary, you do not need to purchase insurance on the exchange.

If you believe you have been a victim of a scam, the Office of the Attorney General's Consumer Protection telephone counselors are available to assist you with your consumer questions.  Please call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-552-9963 if calling from Virginia, or 804-786-2042 if calling from the Richmond area.  The Consumer Protection office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

 

 

 
0
0
0
s2sdefault
powered by social2s

Virginia State Seal as part of the letterhead for the Attorney General.

Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

900 East Main Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219



For media inquiries only, contact:  
Brian J. Gottstein
Phone: (804)786-5874 
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (best contact method)

Commonwealth's attorneys present Cuccinelli with "Champion of Justice" award

- Prosecutors thank AG and his office for giving $20 million from criminal forfeiture to pay for statewide prosecutor training in perpetuity -

News release from the Virginia Association of Commonwealth's Attorneys:

RICHMOND (October 25, 2013) -- On Friday, October 25, 2013, the Virginia Association of Commonwealth's Attorneys presented its "Champion of Justice" Award to Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, II, in recognition of his efforts to secure for Virginia's prosecutors $20 million from the Abbott Labs drug asset forfeiture. A memorandum of understanding has been signed by both the Office of the Attorney General and the Commonwealth's Attorneys' Services Council and currently is awaiting final approval by the United States Treasury Executive Office for Asset Forfeiture (TEOAF).

$18 million of this drug asset forfeiture money will be used to establish an endowment, the interest from which will help fund in perpetuity the mandatory training needs of Virginia's 700+ prosecutors. Currently, the cost of this training is paid by localities or out of the pockets of individual prosecutors.

Attorneys in Virginia are required to attend a minimum of 12 hours of mandatory legal training each year. At current rates of return, the interest on this figure amounts to approximately $500-$700 of training per attorney per year.

The remaining $2 million will go directly on a pro rata basis to the individual offices to pay for some urgent equipment and computer needs.

The "Champion of Justice Award" is given annually to a select group of legislators and other state officials who have worked to enhance the criminal justice system and who have demonstrated support for Virginia's prosecutors. This award was one of six awarded by VACA in 2013, and is intended to recognize the Attorney General's efforts on behalf of the Commonwealth's Attorneys over the past two years. VACA is non-partisan, and this award should not be construed as an endorsement of the Attorney General's campaign for Governor.

 

Commonwealth's attorneys who were present to make the award:
Don Caldwell, Roanoke City
Joel Branscom, Botetourt County
Erin DeHart, Bland County
Harvey Bryant, City of Virginia Beach
Rusty McGuire, Louisa County
Robert Cunningham, Lancaster County
Mike Doucette, City of Lynchburg, Immediate Past President, VACA
and Bob Harris, Executive Director, Commonwealth's Attorneys Services Council

 
0
0
0
s2sdefault
powered by social2s

Virginia State Seal as part of the letterhead for the Attorney General.

Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

900 East Main Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219



For media inquiries only, contact:  
Brian J. Gottstein
Phone: (804)786-5874 
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (best contact method)

Cuccinelli gives $30 million taken from criminals to help shore up state law enforcement retirement accounts

- Money from Abbott Labs settlement to help preserve critically underfunded retirement accounts -

RICHMOND (October 25, 2013) - In a Richmond news conference today, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli gave $30 million to the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) to help shore up two underfunded retirement accounts for state law enforcement officers. The $30 million is part of a criminal settlement stemming from a fraud investigation by Cuccinelli's office; the funds are not taxpayer money.

Cuccinelli said that in addition to helping Virginia keep its retirement funding promise to law enforcement, the retirement accounts need to be shored up to prevent problems with recruitment, morale, and retention.

"It's critical that these retirement funds be preserved so that they can continue to provide the retirement benefits that were promised to public safety officers who have faithfully served their fellow Virginians," said Cuccinelli.

"If Virginia's retirement systems for state law enforcement officers are not on secure financial footing, it could lead to problems in recruitment, morale, and retention that would ultimately have a profoundly negative impact on public safety. These contributions are one way to help," the attorney general said.

VRS maintains two funds for state law enforcement. The State Police Officers' Retirement System (SPORS) is for retired Virginia State Police officers. The Virginia Law Officers' Retirement System (VaLORS) is for      Capitol police officers, campus police officers, conservation officers of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, ABC special agents, marine resources officers, state correctional officers, state juvenile correctional officers, state parole officers, and commercial vehicle enforcement officers of the State Police.

The funds are two of the most underfunded of the VRS accounts. Cuccinelli presented checks for $15 million to VRS for each account.

Cuccinelli presented the two $15 million checks to Robert "Bob" Schultze, director of VRS, and Diana Cantor, chairman of the VRS board of trustees, along with members of the Virginia Capitol Police, Virginia Commonwealth University Police Department, Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice, Marine Resources Commission, Department of Game & Inland Fisheries, Department of Corrections, Alcoholic Beverage Control, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College Police Department, and Virginia State University Police Department.

Download the photo here.

The $30 million is part of the attorney general's $115 million in asset forfeiture proceeds earned from a national Medicaid fraud investigation his office led against Abbott Laboratories, Inc. Besides restitution to the state's Medicaid program and penalties, Abbott paid the forfeiture as part of a 2012 settlement.

While the Abbott asset forfeiture money is the attorney general's office's to keep, Cuccinelli has been making plans for more than a year to use $105 million of the $115 million for grants to state and local police and sheriffs' departments to buy needed equipment such as bulletproof vests, tactical vehicles, and police cars. He is also earmarking money for continuing training for law enforcement and local prosecutors.

The Virginia-led Medicaid fraud investigation led to the second largest Medicaid fraud settlement in U.S. history at the time. In May 2012, Abbott Laboratories Inc. pled guilty and agreed to pay $1.5 billion to the federal government and the states to resolve criminal and civil liability arising from the company's unlawful promotion of the prescription drug Depakote for uses not approved as safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration.

While SPORS and VaLORS are for state law enforcement officers, local sheriffs and police are employed by their local jurisdictions and are under separate retirement systems. Their jurisdictions may be members of VRS or the jurisdictions may manage their own retirement accounts. Local law enforcement retirement funds are generally not segregated from the rest of their fellow public employees' funds like they are for state law enforcement. 

 
0
0
0
s2sdefault
powered by social2s

Virginia Attorney General seal.

Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

900 East Main Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219

 

For media inquiries only, contact:  
Brian J. Gottstein
Phone: (804)786-5874 
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (best contact method)

Cuccinelli recovers $21 million in health care fraud settlements with Johnson & Johnson

- J&J and its subsidiary marketed antipsychotic drugs Risperdal and Invega for unapproved uses in vulnerable patient populations -

RICHMOND (November 4, 2013) - Late today, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli announced that his office has recovered $21 million in two settlements with pharmaceutical companies that allegedly defrauded Virginia's Medicaid program by - among other things - marketing the antipsychotic drugs Risperdal and Invega for uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Johnson & Johnson and subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., also promoted that Risperdal be prescribed to children, the elderly, and those with mental disabilities despite warnings of significant health risks and despite no FDA approval for use in these patient populations. The two settlements agreed to today will result in nearly $10 million in restitution to Virginia's Medicaid program in addition to civil and criminal penalties for the companies.

"J&J put profits over patients when it promoted Risperdal and Invega for unapproved uses that threatened the most vulnerable in our commonwealth - our children, the elderly, and those with mental disabilities," said Cuccinelli.

Virginia joined with other states and the federal government in a $1.6 billion total global settlement with New Jersey-based pharmaceutical manufacturer Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and its subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Once the FDA approves a drug as safe and effective, a manufacturer cannot market or promote the drug for another unapproved off-label use.

The states and the federal government contend that the companies promoted Risperdal for unapproved uses, made false and misleading statements about the safety and efficacy of the drug, and paid illegal kickbacks to health care professionals and long-term care pharmacy providers to induce them to prescribe Risperdal to children, the elderly, and those with mental disabilities.

The states and the federal government further contend that the companies promoted Invega for off-label uses and made false and misleading statements about the safety and efficacy of the drug. The manufacturers' alleged unlawful conduct caused false claims to be submitted to government-funded health care programs, including state Medicaid programs. (More information on what the companies did is in the "Details of off-label allegations" section below.)

Virginia will receive approximately $17,445,682 as part of this settlement. Cuccinelli will be returning approximately $8,105,539 of that to the commonwealth's General Fund Health Care account, which funds the state part of Virginia's Medicaid program. Because Medicaid is a joint federal-state program, J&J's conduct caused losses to both the federal and state governments. The remaining part of the $17 million will reimburse the federal government for its portion of the losses in Virginia's Medicaid program, and a percentage will also go to the whistleblowers who helped bring the case.

Under the civil portion of the settlement, the companies will pay more than $1.2 billion total to the states and the federal government for allegedly violating the federal False Claims Act and state false claims laws. In addition, Janssen will plead guilty to a criminal misdemeanor charge of misbranding Risperdal in violation of the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. As part of the criminal plea, Janssen has agreed to pay an additional $400 million in criminal fines and forfeitures, for a total settlement of $1.6 billion from the two companies. The companies will also enter into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Inspector General, which will monitor the companies' future marketing practices.

Details of off-label allegations

The states and federal government alleged that Janssen marketed Risperdal to control the behaviors of elderly nursing home residents, children, and individuals with mental disabilities.

The complaint alleged that J&J and Janssen were aware that Risperdal posed serious health risks for the elderly, including an increased risk of strokes, but that the companies downplayed these risks. For example, when a J&J study of Risperdal showed a significant risk of strokes and other adverse effects in elderly dementia patients, the complaint alleged that Janssen combined the study data with other studies to make it appear that there was a lower overall risk of adverse effects.

The complaint also alleged that Janssen knew that patients taking Risperdal had an increased risk of developing diabetes, but promoted that Risperdal did not cause diabetes.

The complaint alleged that, despite the FDA warnings and increased health risks, from 1999 through 2005, Janssen aggressively marketed Risperdal to control behavioral disturbances in dementia patients through an "ElderCare sales force" designed to target nursing homes and doctors who treated the elderly. In business plans, Janssen's goal was to "[m]aximize and grow RISPERDAL's market leadership in geriatrics and long term care."

In addition to promoting Risperdal for elderly dementia patients, from 1999 through 2005, Janssen allegedly promoted the antipsychotic drug for use in children and individuals with mental disabilities. The complaint alleged that J&J and Janssen knew that Risperdal posed certain health risks to children, including the risk of elevated levels of prolactin, a hormone that can stimulate breast development and milk production.

In addition to allegations relating to Risperdal, today's settlement also resolves allegations relating to Invega, a newer antipsychotic drug also sold by Janssen. Although Invega was approved only for the treatment of schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, the government alleged that, from 2006 through 2009, J&J and Janssen marketed the drug for off-label indications and made false and misleading statements about its safety and efficacy.

A second settlement over kickbacks

In a separate but related case, in 2010, the United States, Virginia, California, Indiana, Kentucky, and Massachusetts issued complaints in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts alleging Johnson & Johnson paid the kickbacks to Omnicare, the nation's largest pharmacy specializing in dispensing drugs to nursing home patients. The alleged kickbacks were to switch nursing home patients to Johnson & Johnson drugs, including Duragesic, Aciphex, Propulsid, Levaquin, Ultram, Procrit and, most notably, Risperdal. Such kickbacks violated the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act.

Omnicare settled these allegations with the United States and the five plaintiff states in 2009 for $98 million. J&J settled today for $149 million, with $132 million going to the federal government, and $17 million going to the five participating states.

Virginia will receive an additional $3,574,970 as a result of this separate kickback settlement. $1,775,497 will go to the commonwealth's General Fund Health Care account. The remainder of the $3.5 million will reimburse the federal government for its portion of the losses in Virginia's Medicaid program, and a percentage will also go to the whistleblowers who helped bring the case.

Assistant attorneys general Candice Deisher, Kimberly Bolton, and former assistant attorney general Lelia Winget-Hernandez represented the commonwealth in the kickback case. The Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services assisted in the development of the case, especially with evidence discovery.

AG's fraud recoveries have paid the General Fund double the office's budget allocation

On October 18, Cuccinelli announced a $37 million settlement his office negotiated with McKesson Corporation over allegations the company violated the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act by conspiring to inflate prices for more than 400 brand-named prescription drugs.

With McKesson's recovery and today's two recoveries, the office has returned almost twice as much money to the General Fund during Cuccinelli's tenure than the General Assembly appropriated to fund the office. From 2010-2013, the General Fund budget for the office was approximately $78 million. The Medicaid fraud unit alone has returned almost $78 million to the General Fund during that same time. Additionally, the Consumer Protection Section, which handles fraud not related to Medicaid, has returned $73 million to the General Fund. And Cuccinelli has returned an additional $3.2 million to the General Fund through annual savings in his budget over the last four years.

Virginia MFCU's recoveries in last four years now total more than $1.6 billion - more than all other recoveries combined since MFCU began 30 years ago. This amount includes money recovered not only for Virginia, but for the federal Medicaid program and other states.