Press Releases

U.S. Reps. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) today introduced the Medicaid Access Project through Information Technology (MAP IT) to lower health care costs. The bill promotes the modernization of health record systems to prevent medical errors and to increase instant access to medical information for patients and doctors.

Specifically, MAP IT will allow for the creation of a demonstration project to provide a more modern, technology-based system for managing chronic disease for Medicaid recipients.

“Our out-of-date health record system drives up costs.  Under the current paper-based system, doctors and patients lack instant access to medical information, which leads to medical errors and inefficiency.  Our pilot project would use efficient, updated technology to improve care quality for Medicaid patients and to decrease costs to states and the federal government,” Smith said.

The project will give chronic disease patients and caregivers access to their medical records and to information about their disease. Patients will be able to communicate with health educators in a variety of ways.  Patients will also be provided access to their Personal Health Record, allowing them to record and track their health information. Physicians and other caregivers will have access to updated treatment and status information for chronic disease patients and a virtual case management tool.

“We are all worried about the rising costs of health care and now is the time to focus our efforts on using innovative technology to help meet our health care needs,” said McMorris Rodgers.  “Health information technology has the potential to revolutionize the way health care is delivered and received.  This pilot project will help reduce costs within Medicaid, empower patients with the necessary tools to manage their disease, and improve quality of care by reducing errors.”

Without changes to our health care system, analysts predict Medicaid will bankrupt every state in as little as twenty years. By providing online access for managing chronic disease, states can significantly reduce Medicaid costs. An August 2005 study by the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Analysis at Eastern Washington University found that every dollar spent on technology-enabled disease management program saves up to ten dollars in medical and non-medical expenditures.

In addition to cost-savings, the use of health IT ensures overall health care delivery is safe and more comprehensive. According to the Institute of Medicine, at least 1.5 million Americas are sickened, injured or killed each year by errors in prescribing, dispensing or taking medications. By allowing providers to access real-time data, doctors can treat patients with the most recent advancements in medicine and according to the best practices in medicine.

Under the bill proposed by Smith and McMorris Rodgers, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will select at least four proposals to perform the demonstration projects from those submitted by states. The demonstrations would last for two years followed by an evaluation to determine the resulting cost savings.

Congressional art contest winner Sam Kang is congratulated by U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) at the Tacoma Art Museum.  The museum has been gracious enough to host the 9th District Congressional Art Contest for the past 3 years.  Photo credit:  Kate Lynch, Word and Picture Communications Co.Photo: Congressional art contest winner Sam Kang is congratulated by U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) at the Tacoma Art Museum.  The museum has been gracious enough to host the 9th District Congressional Art Contest for the past 3 years.  Photo credit:  Kate Lynch, Word and Picture Communications Co.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today congratulated Sam Kang on winning this year's 9th District Congressional Art Competition. His piece is a pencil drawing entitled “Camel”. Kang is an eleventh grader of the Kennedy International Program at John F. Kennedy Memorial High School in Burien, Washington.

Each year, members of the U.S. House of Representatives hold art competitions in their congressional districts.  The contests feature paintings, drawings, and prints. Each member brings a winning entry back to Washington, D.C. to be displayed in the U.S. Capitol for one year.

"Kang is a wonderfully gifted artist, and I hope he’ll make the trip to Washington, D.C. to see his work displayed in the Capitol.  I’m privileged to have been able to host this contest for the students of my district.  The ability of our young artists to have their works showcased by the Tacoma Art Museum at such an early age is a great honor,” Smith said.

"Sam will be a great fine artist.  He has the desire, the skill, the personality and the creativity to amaze people with his art. His handling of graphite pencil in his award-winning ‘Camel’ is very sophisticated. He has developed a very distinct crosshatching style which is truly fascinating," John F. Kennedy High School art instructor Julie Blakemore-Quesnell said.

Kang will be invited to travel to Washington, D.C. to see his artwork hung in the Capitol at the opening exhibition in June.  Three roundtrip airline tickets were donated for the winner and guests to travel to attend the exhibition.  In the past, representatives of the arts community participating in the exhibition included actors Tom Cruise, Dean Cain, Billy Baldwin and actress Sarah Jessica Parker.

Kang will also receive a renewable $5,000 scholarship to the Savannah College of Art and Design. The second place winner, Shiyu Chen from Annie Wright School and third place winner Stephanie Medeiros of Yelm High School will have the option of having their artistic entries displayed in Smith's Congressional office in Tacoma. The other top competitors also received prizes.  Honorable mentions were given to Marina Merchenko, of Thomas Jefferson High School of Federal Way, Amber Zawislak of Yelm High School, and Laura Wise, of Mt. Rainier Lutheran High School.

 

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and U.S. Rep. Thelma Drake (R-Va.) today offered H. Res. 305 to honor the 20th anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM).  The resolution passed under suspension of House rules by voice vote.  Smith chairs the Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee on the House Armed Services Committee. 

Below are Smith’s remarks:

“Mr. Speaker, I’m proud to work with Representative Drake to mark the 20th anniversary of founding of the Special Operations Command. 

“Congress established SOCOM on April 16, 1987 in response to the failure of the Desert One mission to rescue American hostages in Iran.  We learned two main lessons from Desert One.  First, we needed a better joint command structure; our military was too divided and did not work well together, due to a lack of interoperable equipment and a lack of familiarity and joint training among the various branches.  Second, we lacked forces trained for these kinds of missions.  The establishment of SOCOM was meant to address these shortcomings.

“SOCOM has been a fabulous success.  We have roughly 53,000 special operations personnel operating in more than 50 countries around the world, taking direct action to counter terrorists and working with local populations to prevent terrorists from taking root. 

“I am especially proud of the three special operations force components housed in the 9th District of Washington:  the Army 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) and the Army 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) – 4th Batallion at Fort Lewis and the Air Force 22nd Special Tactics Squadron at McChord Air Force Base.  I’ve also been able to visit several other components of our special operations forces across the country and around the world, and they are doing a fantastic job.

“Going forward, we need more special operations forces to fight the spread of the totalitarian ideology pushed by al-Qaeda and related groups.  Consistent with the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, we will seek to grow SOCOM forces by 15 percent.  We will not sacrifice quality for quantity, but we must have the capability to train more special operations forces to face complex national security challenges. 

“And, we must ensure proper emphasis on indirect action.  Often when people think of special operations, they think of direct action against terrorists.  But much of SOCOM’s mission involves less dramatic but essential work.  Special operations forces are currently working in well over a dozen countries to prevent al-Qaeda and other organizations from taking root.  They train locals to defend themselves and help local populations improve their living situations so that they are less susceptible to terrorist recruitment. 

“Getting to know local populations, learning the languages, becoming helpful to them – these steps are vital to preventing insurgencies and terrorist groups from taking hold.  We recently heard from a special operations veteran who told us that the most helpful counter-terrorism tool his force brought with them in North Africa was a dentist.  The population needed this service so badly that our providing it led to them working with us to root out terrorists in the area.  This kind of work to win the hearts and minds of local populations is essential if we are to defeat the spread of al-Qaeda’s message across the globe.  That’s why we in Congress must ensure that SOCOM is resourced and structured properly to sufficiently emphasize and effectively carry out this critical indirect work.

“I want to thank the members from both parties on the terrorism subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee for their work to make sure our special operations forces have the tools they need to protect our country.  I want to especially thank Ranking Member Mac Thornberry and Representative Thelma Drake for their hard work on this important resolution.”

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement on the Pentagon’s decision to extend Army deployments from 12 months to 15 months.  Smith is chairman of the Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee on the House Armed Services Committee.

"This is hard news for our Fort Lewis soldiers and families.  They should know how proud we are of their service. My office stands ready to help them in any way and I hope they and their families will contact me if we can be of any assistance.

"They should also know that Congress is doing everything we can to get them the tools, equipment and training they need so they can finish their extended tour safely and come home to their loved ones."

 

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement after voting for H.R. 1591, the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Health, and Iraq Accountability Act.  The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 218 to 212.

“This bill is an important first step to get the President to change course in Iraq.  The American people have made it absolutely clear they want a new direction, but the President wants ‘no strings attached’ funds so he can pursue the same failed policies in Iraq.  The time has come to acknowledge that we will not stay in Iraq indefinitely.  This bill provides a responsible blueprint for the redeployment of our troops to better fight the war on terror.

“Our bill will also put pressure on the Iraqi government to meet the benchmarks the President enumerated months ago.  It gives our leaders in the field leverage they need to force Iraqi politicians to commit to a just accommodation among the warring factions in Iraq. 

“I support this legislation, and I strongly believe it will help lead to a better course of action by our nation in Iraq and in the broader war against Al Qaeda and their violent totalitarian ideology.”