Press Releases

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today introduced legislation to address national Medicare reimbursement disparities that hurt Washington state.  The legislation, which Murray and Smith first introduced in 2002, raises Washington state’s Medicare reimbursement rates to the national average and ensures that all states receive at least the national average of per-patient spending.  The MediFair Act ensures that Washington state’s seniors are on par with seniors around the country and stops punishing the state’s health care system for providing efficient, quality care.

“Washington state’s Medicare program is one of the most efficient in the country.  The federal program punishes our lack of waste and low utilization through very low reimbursement rates for our seniors and health care system.  We should reward good government, not punish it, and the MediFair Act is a good step in that direction,” Smith said.

"Washington state seniors have spent their lives working hard, raising their families, and paying into the Medicare system. But when they retire, they find that their access to health care depends upon where they happen to live," Senator Murray said. "The MediFair Act is a starting point for eliminating the regional inequities in Medicare. Our bill ensures that seniors are not penalized when they choose to retire and that doctors aren't forced to choose between staying in business or taking Medicare patients."

The MediFair Act will ensure Washington’s seniors and health care system get fair treatment from the federal Medicare program and reward efficiency instead of punishing it.   The bill increases reimbursement rates for Washington state to the national average and directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to require other states be more efficient.

The federal Medicare and Medicare Advantage systems cover health care for senior citizens by reimbursing doctors, hospitals, home health care, nursing homes and HMOs.  Washington state worked hard to create an efficient Medicare system.  Instead of rewarding Washington state’s responsible administration of their program, the federal government’s payment formula repays our state with one of the lowest reimbursement rates in the country. 

In 2003, for example, per capita spending under traditional Medicare was $5,661 for beneficiaries in Seattle, $9,752 for those in Los Angeles, and $11,340 for those in Miami. Continuing cuts to the Medicare program hit our state particularly hard and cause Medicare providers and insurance companies to seriously consider not participating in the Washington state Medicare program.  We need to protect choice for our seniors and ensure they can find a Medicare provider when they seek medical care.

Smith and Murray introduced the MediFair Act in their respective chambers of Congress on Thursday.  U.S. Reps. Brian Baird (D-Wash.), Norm Dicks (D-Wash.),  Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) and Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) cosponsored the bill. The House and the Senate must approve their versions of the legislation before the President can sign it into law.  Smith and Murray introduced similar legislation in 2005.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) returned late yesterday from leading a five-day congressional delegation (CODEL) trip to the United Kingdom, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.  U.S. Reps. Mac Thornberry (D-Texas), Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), Bill Shuster (R-Penn.) and Mike Conaway (D-Texas) joined him on the trip.  Smith led the CODEL as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s terrorism panel.

“Our troops and foreign service officers work hard around the world to serve American interests and to fight the spread of terrorist networks and their ideology, especially in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  This trip reinforced my conviction that this region of the world is the central front in our war against al-Qaida and we have under-resourced it because of other priorities.  This must change,” Smith said.

Smith organized the CODEL to provide House Armed Services Committee members with information regarding our special operations forces and their work to roll back al-Qaida and related groups in key theaters around the world.  Smith organized a counter-terrorism-related CODEL to the Pacific region earlier this year.  These trips provide Members of Congress with invaluable direct contact with in-country U.S. and allied personnel who can provide first-hand explanations of their needs and challenges.

The CODEL’s itinerary included stops in:

  • The United Kingdom.  The Members of Congress met with the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Robert H. Tuttle, the U.S. Country Team, and United Kingdom counter-terrorism officials and military personnel. 
  • Afghanistan.  Smith’s delegation met with U.S. Ambassador William B. Wood and members of the U.S. Country Team.  The delegation also met with General Dan K. McNeill, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force, and Abdul Raheem Wardak, the Minister of Defense for Afghanistan.  Other meetings also occurred with local business leaders, members of the U.S. special operations forces community, constituents serving in the region, as well as Canadian military officials stationed in Kandahar to discuss the activities of the local Provincial Reconstruction Team.
  • Pakistan. The CODEL met with U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Patterson and members of the U.S. Country Team.  The CODEL also met with President Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani, and Lieutenant General Nadeem Taj, Director of the Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency.

“This trip gave our delegation insight into the challenges faced by U.S. personnel in theaters beyond Iraq that are essential to our national security.  I intend to put the lessons learned to use as the Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee crafts our portion of the National Defense Authorization Act in the coming weeks,” Smith said.

Reps. Adam Smith (WA-09) and Brian Baird (WA-03) today co-chaired a joint subcommittee hearing between the House Science Committee and House Armed Services Committee to examine the role social and behavioral sciences can play in meeting our national security needs. Rep. Smith, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities, and Rep. Baird, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education, led the effort to explore opportunities for collaboration between the Department of Defense (DoD) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) in utilizing this scientific research to help soldiers serving in new combat situations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The fight to stop the spread of terrorism is in large part a struggle to understand and work with local populations.  Our special operations forces and other military and civilian personnel work in dozens of countries and across many different cultures, and understanding the particulars of each is of enormous importance if we are to deny al-Qaida and other groups safe haven.  These interactions are a big component of American ‘soft power,’ and the more skilled and informed we become in this context, the better we will be able to root out insurgencies and terrorists.  Today’s hearing was an opportunity for our subcommittees to learn more about the role social and behavioral sciences can play in our national security,” Smith said.

“Our country has invested billions of dollars in mapping the physical terrain of combat zones based on the recognition that it would be foolhardy to send our soldiers into unknown terrain because it would endanger our soldiers and their mission,” said Chairman Baird.  “What I find so encouraging and interesting about today’s hearing is the recognition that human terrain, which we may not be able to map by satellite or GPS, is just as important to the success of our mission, the survival of our soldiers, and the people were trying to protect.”

During the joint hearing, members explored how NSF research in the social and behavioral sciences can help the nation achieve its national security goals, including empowering soldiers or combat units to adapt and maneuver in foreign cultures and stressful situations. The Subcommittees also examined what new tools, technologies and training programs researchers can use to help soldiers adapt to the current irregular warfare environment in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Subcommittee Members heard testimony from the following witnesses: Dr. André van Tilborg, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Science and Technology, Department of Defense; Colonel Martin Schweitzer, Commander 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division; Dr. Mark Weiss, Division Director for Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences & Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences, National Science Foundation; Dr. David Segal, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for Research on Military Organization, University of Maryland.

Today’s military witness, Col. Schweitzer, highlighted an example of the practical application of this research in an operational setting.  Col. Schweitzer recently returned from Afghanistan, where he worked with a Human Terrain Team (HTT), which places civilian and uniformed scientists on the ground in order to provide soldiers with better knowledge of the culture in which they are operate.

For more information on this hearing or to access witness testimony, visit the Committee’s website: http://armedservices.house.gov/hearing_information.shtml.


Reps. Adam Smith and Brian Baird



Armed Services hearing panel

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement regarding H.R. 5613, the Protecting the Medicaid Safety Net Act, which passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 349 - 62.  Smith voted for the bill.

“The President’s proposed Medicaid regulations would have forced deep cuts to federal Medicaid funding to Washington state.  Those regulations would have put in jeopardy important support for millions of beneficiaries nationwide by slashing $18 billion in funding to states for essential Medicaid programs and services.  The bill we passed tonight will prevent – at least temporarily – cuts that would particularly affect children, the elderly, and people with disabilities who rely on Medicaid,” Smith said.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today voted in favor of H.R. 2634, the Jubilee Act for Responsible Lending and Expanded Debt Cancellation Act.  The bill will build on past success in relieving 30 poor countries of roughly $80 billion dollars of debt since 1996.  Debt relief for the world’s poorest countries is one of the most important ways we can help the developing world and reduce extreme poverty in the areas of most dire need.  The bill passed by a vote of 285 – 132.

“Rising food prices highlight how essential it is for our country to take a lead in the fight against extreme poverty around the world.  Debt relief programs are some of our most effective measures to aid poor nations in getting back on their feet.  While faced with stifling debt payments, it is nearly impossible for heavily indebted countries to make progress on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, general health care, education, and poverty reduction. This bill directs the Administration to seek an agreement with the World Bank, IMF and the Paris Club to expand debt relief to up to 24 additional impoverished countries,” Smith said.

H.R. 2634 would require countries meet certain criteria before qualifying for debt relief, which relate to:

*          human rights,

*          public financial management,

*          budget transparency, and

*          open and fair elections.

The bill requires savings from debt relief to be used toward a wide variety poverty reduction activities.  For example, Uganda used its $57.9 million in savings from debt relief in 2006 to invest in energy and water infrastructure, primary education, malaria control, and health care.    

Smith is a senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and is the sponsor of H.R. 1302, the Global Poverty Act, which would require the Administration craft a comprehensive strategy to reduce global poverty.

The Senate must now consider H.R. 2634 before the President can sign it into law.