The U.S. House of Representatives has passed nearly 80 bills to combat the opioid crisis. One of the most dicsussed bills was offered by Congressman Latta, the Indexing Narcotis, Fentanyl, and Opioids (INFO) Act. The INFO Act would establish a one-stop shop of information on federal efforts to stop the opioid crisis and available funding. The information would be used to help federal, state, and local officials develop the most effective strategies to prevent addiction, treat those that are addicted, and keep prescription drugs from falling into the wrong hands. Even more helpful, the INFO Act would also track federal funding being used to combat the epidemic and help communities know where grant fund is available.
Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden said about the bill, “I really want to thank my colleague from Ohio, Mr. Latta, for leading this important initiative. I think all of us in our districts have heard directly from people going ‘I don’t know what resources are available at the Federal level, I don’t know where to access it, can’t you do something?’ And that’s where Mr. Latta, who chairs our subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection, rose to the challenge and put together this piece of legislation.”
In addition, Latta voted to pass bills like:
H.R. 5580 – STOP Fentanyl Deaths Act – Authorizes grants to Federal, state, and local agencies for the establishment or operation of public health laboratories to detect fentanyl, its analogues, and other synthetic opioids.
H.R. 5603 – Access to Telehealth Services for Opioid Use Disorder – Instructs the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to evaluate the utilization of telehealth services in treating substance use disorder.
H.R. 5809 – Postoperative Opioid Prevention Act – Creates a pass through payment to encourage the development of non-opioid drugs for post-surgical pain management in Medicare.
H.R. 5752 – Stop Illicit Drug Importation Act – Streamlines and enhances the Food and Drug Administration’s tools to intercept illegal products.
A full breakdown of the legislation can be found here.
Discussing the Epidemic with Impacted Communities
Findlay Opioid Forum
In 2016, Congressman Latta held a forum with hundreds of constituents in Hancock County to discuss the epidemic. The conversations he heard at that event helped spur his action in Congress to address the problem.
The Findlay Courier reported about the forum, “…it’s become clear that opioids affect every community, and their pervasiveness has pushed addiction ‘over the top’ of other issues such as Obamacare, Latta said. ‘This is not an epidemic that’s happening someplace else,’ Latta said after the forum. ‘It’s right here.’”
The forum can be viewed in its entirety here.
Defiance Opioid Forum
The next year, Latta held a forum at Defiance College with representatives from Federal agencies to discuss opioids. Once again, it was clear to all in the room just how devastating the problem has been in Northwest and West Central Ohio.
As the Defiance Crescent-News reported, “This is a very important subject. Why? Because Ohio is ground zero. There are heartbreaking statistics,” Latta said in opening remarks. And the lives cut short are not the only effect on the area. The economy is affected because employers have a hard time finding workers who can pass drug testing. “Who is it affecting? It is across the board,” Latta added.
Education and Advocacy
Congressman Latta is uniquely positioned to combat this crisis as a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and being from a state that has been especially hard hit. Because of this, Latta has spent much of his time describing how dire the issue is and the need to do something. He's spent time participating in President Trump's opioid task force, giving speeches on the House floor, gathering information in committee hearings, and putting out Public Service Announcements in the community. Education and sharing knowledge will play a major role in stopping this crisis and Latta has been doing his part to spread the word.
Read what Latta has written on the epidemic in:
The Toledo Blade --> Closing Information Gap on the Opioid Crisis
"This crisis will need all hands on deck at the local, state, and federal level. It’s going to take law enforcement, the courts, the medical community, and nonprofits to all work together as well.That can only happen if we’re using the same information, and therefore, aim to achieve the same goals. Ohio is ground zero for this crisis, and we have to turn this distressing trend around."
The Toledo Blade --> Bob Latta: New Legislation Could Help Combat the Opioid Crisis
"I don’t need to tell Ohioans how important it is that we need to move quickly — they’re seeing this crisis affect friends and family members. We’re losing people every day. It’s time for action."
Latta has also discussed this crisis with local, regional, and national media:
Findlay Courier --> Latta's Opioid Bill Passes House
"U.S. Rep. Bob Latta’s bill to help battle the opioid crisis passed the U.S. House on Tuesday. The bill, called the INFO Act, would establish a database for information and resources that can be used by health care providers, state and local governments, pharmacists, advocates and law enforcement."
Washington Post --> Washington Plans to Tackle the Opioid Crisis This Month
"Committee staff confirmed at least three of 57 bills passed in committee that are expected to get votes next week. They include measures from Reps. Bob Latta (R-Ohio), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) aimed at improving doctors’ access to patients’ history of addiction, giving the National Institutes of Health new authorities to research responses to the opioid epidemic and creating a public database tracking federal efforts to stop the crisis."
Spectrum News --> Rep. Bob Latta on the Opiate Epidemic
Bryan Times --> Ohio Representatives See Opioid Initiatives Move Forward
“Every day, more than 115 Americans will die because of an overdose,” said Latta. “While this crisis continues to devastate communities, there is still a lack of information that is making it difficult to create strategies that can effectively address this epidemic.
CNN --> House to HOld Two-Day Hearing to Consider More Thank 20 Bills
"Last week at the US Chamber of Commerce, Energy and Commerce Committee chair Greg Walden announced four of the bills that would be included among the more than 20 being considered later this month. They include:
- GOP Rep. Bob Latta's bill, the INFO Act, which would streamline efforts within health organizations for grants and other funding related to opioids"
NBC 24 --> Hundreds Attend Rep. Latta's Forum on Opiate Abuse in Findlay
WTOL --> Congressman Latta Puts Together Forum Addressing the Opioid Epidemic
"In an interview with Congressman Bob Latta, it was clear the opioid epidemic was taking on new proportions. The congressman explained that prescription pill addiction has become evermore prevalent and that the cost of pills often leads to heroin use."
Congressman Latta has also advocated for solutions on the House floor:
When the Energy and Commerce Committee wanted to hear from Members of Congress about how the crisis is affecting their districts, Latta testified on what is happening in Northwest and West Central Ohio.
Meetings with Those on the Front Lines
One of the most important events to combat this epidemic are the National Drug Take Back Days. Latta has participated in a number of these events as constituents can turn in unused and unneeded prescription drugs. The majority of abusers of prescription drugs gain access to them through family and friends - so this day is an opportunity to clear that medicine cabinet of unneeded, unused, and expired drugs.
Latta at Prescription Drug Take Back Day in Findlay
Latta participates in the Drug Take Back Day in Sylvania
Congressman Latta at the Drug Take Back Day in Whitehouse
Congressman Latta has valued the input he's received from those on the ground working to stop this epidemic. He's met with members of law enforcement, pharmacists, pharmacy students, nurses, and more to hear their ideas about reversing the devastating trend of rising addiction and overdoses.
Congressman Latta leads a roundtable with Ohio Northern School of Pharmacy Students
Latta Tours the Wood County Jail with Sheriff Wasylyshyn
Latta Meets with Pharmacists at a Roundtable Held at Owens Community College