DAYTON, OHIO—Today Congressman Mike Turner hosted a socially distanced roundtable with local elected officials, law enforcement, health care leaders, and opioid addiction experts to discuss the impact of the opioid crisis on the Dayton community, as well as his legislative action in Congress to combat this epidemic from multiple angles. 

Congressman Turner recently introduced two bipartisan pieces of his legislation, the Medicaid Reentry Act, which would create a new path for addiction assistance to a vulnerable Medicaid population, and The Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act (MAT), which would expand access to a life-saving opioid addiction treatment option. 

At the roundtable, Congressman Turner led the discussion by asking participants about their battle on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic. He then discussed how the bipartisan pieces of legislation he introduced would help combat this crisis. Following the conclusion of the event, Congressman Turner stated: 

“Too many Ohioans have seen first-hand the devastating surge of opioid overdose deaths across our state. Families are desperate for hope, and our practitioners are longing for access to life-saving addiction treatment. That is why today, I brought together leaders in the Dayton community on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic to discuss the approaches and resources that are necessary to combat this crisis,” said Turner. “During today’s discussion, I heard directly from local leaders that the bipartisan pieces of legislation I introduced, the Medicaid Reentry Act and the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act, could save lives. While there is no one solution to defeating this deadly crisis, both bills will take critical steps by offering greater access to life-saving care to those struggling with opioid addiction.” Turner concluded, “I’m grateful for the daily efforts of law enforcement, health care workers, and members of the addiction community on the frontlines of this crisis, and I urge Congress to take action to help end the scourge of this epidemic.” 

Marti Taylor, CEO OneFifteen stated: 

“For the first time since 2017, overdose deaths in Montgomery County are on the rise. Access to treatment, that is based in science, is critical to reversing the course of addiction,” said Taylor. “OneFifteen is committed to working with the criminal justice system this year to provide options for treatment to those who are struggling with addiction. We are working toward telehealth options to meet patients where they are to give them the best chance for sustained recovery.” 

Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck thanked the Congressman for his leadership: 

“I commend you for staying in the fight and helping our community try and get through this battle so we can stop losing our friends and family. The only way to make a big solid difference in saving people’s lives to treatment and prevention so I commend you for your efforts,” said Sheriff Streck. 

Both Dr. Natalie Lester, Medical Director, OneFifteen and Dr. Nancy Pook MD FACEP praised Congressman Turner for championing the MAT Act, which will expand access to what they agreed was a ‘proven’ opioid addiction treatment option called buprenorphine. 

“Removing barriers to treatment, such as requiring physicians and other advanced practice providers to obtain the DATA 2000 Waiver, will allow more people who are struggling with addiction get the care they need to put them on a path of recovery,” said Dr. Natalie Lester. “OneFifteen fully supports medications for the treatment of opioid use disorder and operates a full spectrum of addiction services on our campus. Access to treatment options, such as buprenorphine, can support a patient through their recovery journey and are proven to provide better, long-term outcomes.” 

“As a practicing emergency physician, I can ensure you that the pandemic highlighted social disparities and that substance use disorders often rose to the forefront. Congressman Turner’s support of these key treatment programs promote steps to creating community hope and health through initiatives that provide needed services at critical times of need, helping link people with mental illness and substance use disorder to literature proven treatment by physicians and other health care providers,” said Dr. Nancy Pook MD FACEP. 

Other participants at the roundtable included Beth Esposito, President of Samaritan Behavioral Health, Executive Director of Family of Addicts Anita Kitchen, Helen Jones-Kelley, Director Montgomery County ADAMHS Board and Montgomery County Commissioner Judy Dodge.  

Recent data from Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s opioid task report showed that opioid deaths in Ohio are at a ten-year high. Although Montgomery county has seen a decline in overdose deaths from 2017, there were more overdose deaths in 2020 than there were in 2019.