Attorney General Moody's Week In Review
We are living in extraordinary times, and as we all have learned, just because we have been forced to focus on COVID-19 doesn’t mean our other challenges have gone away.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen reports of an increase in opioid-related overdoses in Florida, affecting some as young as teenagers. In Jacksonville alone, 436 calls of suspected drug overdoses were reported in March—the highest monthly total since tracking began in 2015.
Parents, while we are at home with our children, we should embrace this time and discuss the dangers of drug use. Nearly 60 percent of youth who misuse prescription painkillers get them through friends or relatives.
It is extremely important, now more than ever, that we properly secure any current prescription opioids out of the reach of children, and while National Drug Take Back Day was postponed due to COVID-19, there are still take-back locations operating 24/7 to dispose of unused or expired opioids—ensuring that they stay out of the hands of children.
For a map of locations, resources about how to talk with your children, information on opioid addiction and more, please visit our one-stop statewide resource, DoseofRealityFL.com.
Talk to your kids and take steps to ensure no one in your family has access to prescription opioids they weren’t prescribed. These simple, but important steps, could save your child from a lifetime of addiction. It may even save their life.
Stay safe, Florida.
VIDEO CONSUMER ALERT: Attorney General Seeks Information on Privacy Protections for Children Using TikTok App
Attorney General Ashley Moody announced she is seeking information from the chief executive officer of TikTok, requesting more information about how the China-based social media company ensures the privacy and security of children who use its video application. Attorney General Moody’s concerns center on whether age verification tools on TikTok’s application can be circumvented. If a child under the age of 13 can delete an account and obtain a new account on the very same device using a fake birthdate, specific protections for children may be evaded.
Under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, parental consent is required before the personal information of users under 13 can be collected—making age verification an integral tool in protecting TikTok’s younger users. It is also imperative that application operators provide parents with adequate guidance, information and tools regarding the use of children’s personal information.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “As a mother, I have concerns about the risks our children face when they communicate online or download new social media applications. As the use of social applications, such as TikTok, increases with more children at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, and summer begins, it is paramount that robust security measures are in place and are enforced to protect and safeguard the privacy of children who may not be of the age to appreciate online safety risks. As potential security issues involving social media applications are brought to my attention, I will continue reaching out to these companies to learn more about the protections they have in place to ensure compliance with our privacy laws.” More.
Attorney General Moody Secures Refunds and Penalties from Florida Pharmacy Offering At-Home COVID-19 Test Kits
Attorney General Ashley Moody recovered thousands of dollars for consumers who purchased purported at-home COVID-19 test kits. Sunshine Community Rx of Sarasota, d/b/a PrecisionMed Pharmacy sent approximately 1,000 text message solicitations to consumers in the Tampa Bay area offering at-home COVID-19 test kits for $85 each. More than 100 consumers purchased the kits, but PrecisionMed neglected to inform consumers that the kits were not approved for at-home use.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “COVID-19 tests are a vital tool in helping Floridians protect their health and reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus. We must ensure that consumers who are seeking a test aren’t misled or ripped off by products that are not effective or approved for use at home.” More.
Pinellas County Resident Arrested for Medicaid Provider Fraud
Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the St. Petersburg Police Department arrested a Pinellas County man for willfully and intentionally engaging in Medicaid fraud for more than two years. Willie T. Barnes allegedly received more than $15,000 in Medicaid payments for therapy never provided to clients. Barnes is the owner and operator of Barnes Holistic Counseling Therapies Institute located in St. Petersburg.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “Defrauding the Medicaid program for personal gain leaves both patients and the program vulnerable. Patients should be able to trust the medical professionals they receive treatment from without fear of being used to scam the Medicaid program and rip off taxpayers.” More.
Attorney General Moody Joins Bipartisan Coalition of Attorneys General in Urging Congress to Fund Expanded Access to Broadband
Attorney General Ashley Moody is joining 38 attorneys general in urging Congress to help ensure that more Americans have the home internet connectivity necessary to participate in telemedicine, teleschooling and telework as part of any additional legislation that provides relief and recovery resources related to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of Americans are learning, working and seeking healthcare from home during this pandemic to social distance—making internet access crucial for participation in everyday academic and economic activities.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “With many studying, working and seeking health care from home during COVID-19, internet access is more important than ever before. Congress must act and must act now to help ensure Americans living in rural parts of our country can participate in school, work and other activities vital to our everyday lives.” More.