May 30

On Thursday, I had the wonderful opportunity to announce the recipients of two $1,500 college scholarships created last year to help high school seniors whose lives have been impacted by prescription drug addiction. Kimberly Barrett, a graduate of Owsley County High School, and Josh Hollan, a graduate of Hazard High School, are two very deserving teens who were selected to receive the "Sarah Shay and Michael Donta Memorial Scholarships for Hope and Healing."

The scholarships are in memory of 19-year-old Sarah Shay and 24-year-old Michael Donta. Shay, of Morehead, Ky., died of a prescription drug overdose in 2006. Donta, of Ashland, Ky., lost his battle with prescription painkiller abuse in 2010. Sarah and Michael’s parents, Dr. Karen Shay and Mike Donta, now travel with me across Kentucky to help educate middle and high school students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and heroin. Together, through my Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program, we have shared this important message with approximately 40,000 students, teachers, and parents in Kentucky.

Kimberly and Josh are two incredibly determined teens who have embraced positive lifestyles, excelling in both their personal and academic lives, despite seeing firsthand the devastating consequences of prescription drug abuse. During their high school careers, Kimberly and Josh participated in numerous community service and extracurricular activities, held down part-time jobs, and maintained excellent GPAs. I commend both teens on their hard work, and I wish them only the best as they pursue their college degrees. This fall, Kimberly will be attending the University of Kentucky, and Josh will be attending Hazard Community & Technical College. Josh even told me that he wants to obtain a law degree and help Kentucky families and children who may be facing situations similar to what he’s experienced. You can learn more about the scholarships and this year’s recipients here. We’ll also be announcing details on next year’s scholarship in the coming months.

This week, my office, along with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky and other federal agencies, announced a landmark health care fraud settlement with an Eastern Kentucky hospital. King’s Daughter Medical Center in Ashland, Ky., has agreed to pay the U.S. government nearly $41 million to resolve civil allegations that it made millions of dollars by falsely billing Medicare and Medicaid for heart procedures that were performed on patients who didn’t medically need them. My Medicaid fraud investigators participated in this investigation and are helping recover more than $1 million for our vital state Medicaid program. We take very seriously our obligation to hold accountable those who put profits ahead of patient care, and I’m proud that our Medicaid Fraud Unit has been recognized as one of the most aggressive in the country. Additional information about the settlement is available here.

Next week, I’ll be attending the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) annual Summer Meeting. While there, I’ll be joining many of my fellow attorneys general from across the country to discuss key issues affecting our states, including prescription drug abuse. I’m looking forward to moderating a session on exploring and identifying best practices for prescription drug monitoring programs. Additionally, my office will be sharing with the attendees a presentation about our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program, which already serves as a national model and is being duplicated by attorneys general in other states.