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Public Statements

Issue Position: Public Health

Issue Position

Location: Unknown

As Attorney General, I have worked tirelessly to take on out-of-state corporations that shirk their responsibilities to Vermont and Vermonters. My willingness to take on these powerful interests earned my label as "giant killer" from the Vermont Medical Society. I was recognized by the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Vermont as Tobacco Control Champion in 2003, in 2009 as Citizen of the Year by the Vermont Medical Society and in 2010 by the National Humane Society with its Humane Law Enforcement Award.

I served a maximum term of six years as a member and then Chair of the Board of the American Legacy Foundation. In appreciation for my service, in 2008 the Foundation endowed the William H. Sorrell Lecture Series, funding an annual address on tobacco control issues at a NAAG meeting.

I am committed to keeping Vermonters healthy; I have spearheaded initiatives that focus on Vermont health and safety, and I have secured millions of dollars for Vermonters because of successful litigation in the areas of public health and consumer protection.

Medicaid and Residential Abuse Unit

The Vermont Medicaid Fraud and Residential Abuse Unit of the AGO investigates and prosecutes crimes against patients, elders, and vulnerable adults receiving services paid for by Medicaid.

It also works to prosecute those who commit fraud against the Medicaid system by people or companies who provide services and Medicaid reimbursed goods.

The Unit also investigates incidents of fraud in the administration of Medicaid. There is a drug diversion initiative titled "When Healing Hands Harm," which is a video used to educate healthcare professions regarding the national issue of opiate addiction within healthcare facilities. There were four local case studies of individuals prosecuted for diverting prescription medications intended for their patients' pain management. This training tool was funded by a grand from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Officer of the Inspector General of the State of Vermont.

End of Life Care Initiative

After attending a conference held by the National Association of Attorneys General in 2003, Bill realized the number of shortcomings of end of life care in this country. Bill realized Vermont, based on the ranking nationally and what he learned at this conference, needed to address the issues of end of life care and he developed the Vermont Attorney General End of Life Care Initiative.

This included addressing pain and symptom management, DNR requests, additional training, education, and awareness of pain and symptom management in end of life care, studying insurance and working towards removing barriers to reimbursement for hospice services, pain management and palliative care, as well as decision making directives. This initiative advised the legislature to address these issues by 2005.

By 2004, the Vermont legislature began to take steps to improve Vermont law on pain and symptom management and other end of life care issues.

Healthy Vermont Initiative

In line with earlier initiatives on topics such as End of Life issues and Lead in Consumer Products and the Environment, we are currently engaged in an initiative on Obesity and Overweight issues.

The importance of this issue is underscored when considering that in Vermont and nationally, the illness and premature deaths associated with obesity are approaching overtaking tobacco as the greatest avoidable public health problem we face.

Michelle Obama has recognized the disturbing trends and the White House recently issued a Report on Obesity.

In February, 2010, we invited stakeholders ranging from public health officials to educators to Vermont farmers to the Retail Grocers Association to the soft drink beverage industry to come together and discuss obesity-related problems and what we might consider doing in Vermont to improve the situation. We expect the group to propose recommendations and then a report to be prepared for public release in late September or early October.

"Reduced Risk" Cigarettes

As more of the history of the tobacco industry's lying about the addictive qualities of its products and its marketing to kids has come into the public consciousness, some companies have been trying to bring to the market so-called safer or "reduced risk" products. There has been much concern in the public health community about these developments.

Our office took the lead against R.J. Reynolds and its Eclipse reduced risk cigarettes, alleging that RJR lacked enough scientific research to establish and advertise that Eclipse cigarettes do in fact present less risk to smokers than traditional cigarettes. After a five week trial in a Vermont state court, we won a resounding victory in the liability phase of the case.

Big Tobacco

Just days after stepping in to office, Bill won $300 million for Vermonters, with $25 million in perpetuity each year for successfully fighting big tobacco companies for lying about the harmful effects of their products.

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