By LOU WILIN
Years of efforts by lawmakers and policymakers seem to have made little progress in overturning the deadly opioid epidemic, U.S. Rep. Bob Latta said Monday.
“It’s getting worse,” Latta, R-Bowling Green, said in a speech to Findlay Rotary Club. “It’s not getting better.”
In 2016, 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses. Last year it was 72,000, or nearly twice as many as 10 years earlier.
Latta said he has hopes for a bill he authored, which passed the House in June. His proposed measure, now being considered by the Senate, 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.
It also would track federal funding being used to combat the epidemic.
He said his bill was sparked by conversations with people and groups who said there is still a lack of information about how to create strategies that can address the epidemic.
“By listening to them, we put together a piece of legislation we call the INFO Act, which allows you to go online to find the help, but most importantly, to find where the money is,” Latta said.
It would make it easier for communities and groups to access federal grants to fight the drug epidemic.
The reason the U.S. is facing an opioid epidemic like no other country in the world is that opioids are being overprescribed, Latta said.
Over 42 percent of those addicted to opioids got hooked by stealing them from somebody else’s medicine cabinet, he said.
Separately, Latta said the military has been a lower priority in the federal budget for too long.
“We had too many years where it was put on the back-burner in my opinion, and dollars weren’t being allocated,” he said.
“Last year, unfortunately, we had four times as many individuals in our military killed in training accidents than in combat.”
Only five out of 58 Army combat brigades are prepared for combat today, he said.
“Half of our Navy aircraft can’t fly,” he said.
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