Press Releases

Today, U.S. Representative Adam Smith (D-WA) gave the keynote address at the Distributed Diagnosis in Home Healthcare Conference (D2H2) held in Arlington, Virginia to discuss the importance of Health Information Technology (Health IT).  The University of Washington is one of the main organizers for this national conference on health information technology. The purpose of the conference is to bring stakeholders together to discuss ways to improve the quality of care and patient wellness and outcomes by transforming the delivery of healthcare from a central, hospital-based system to one that is more patient-centered, distributed, and home-based for both the developed and developing countries.

One of Smith’s top priorities is to provide access to quality, affordable health care. Smith believes that under the current paper-based healthcare system, patients and their doctors lack instant access to medical information. This lack of connectivity and shared knowledge leads to medical errors, increased costs, and inefficiency.

At the conference, Smith noted, “recent advancements in health information technology and the use of electronic medical records allows for innovative collaboration where patients, doctors and health educators can be brought together online to discuss patients health care needs.  The use of information technology can be used as a tool to increase the efficiency of the healthcare system, improve the quality of care for patients, and decrease costs to the federal government, which is facing record deficits.”

Smith believes that Congress can play a significant role in helping the healthcare industry adopt electronic health records and utilize other health IT technologies. As Smith has noted in the past, one of the biggest barriers for physicians to use health IT is cost.

Today, Smith said, “the federal government can help by providing funding, whether through grants for pilot projects, tax credits, or loans.  The federal government can also help facilitate the growth of local, statewide, and regional health information networks so that providers in a particular community are able to communicate and share health data so that patients have seamless, continuous care among various providers.  In addition, the federal government can help establish standards so that interoperability can be achieved.  Lastly, Congress should enact strict privacy and security measures so that the integrity of patients’ health information is not compromised.”

To this end, Smith, along with Congresswoman Cathy McMorris (R-WA) have introduced a bill H.R. 4331, the Medicaid Access Project Through Information Technology Bill (MAP IT). This legislation would authorize the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) to conduct two-year pilot projects in selected states to demonstrate the beneficial impact of health IT on chronic-disease case management for the Medicaid population.

The project, as proposed in the legislation, would give chronic-disease patients and caregivers access to their own medical records and enable them to track their own health information through personal health records. The project will also give patients access to a single source of information on chronic disease and include several channels of communication with health educators.

In return, physicians and caregivers will have access to complete, current treatment and health-status information for chronic-disease patients, using a Web-based virtual-management tool. An effective health IT chronic-disease-management program, such as this one, could result in a more than 3-percent reduction in overall Medicaid program costs while improving the access and quality of care.

“It’s appropriate that the University of Washington is a leader in organizing this conference,” said Smith after making his remarks today. “Washington State is a national leader on health IT.  Madigan Army Hospital on Ft. Lewis, WA is one of only two sites in the United States where medical information is shared between the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration. Already, the Northwest Physicians Network (NPN), based in Tacoma, and Inland Northwest Health Services (INHS), based in Spokane, are national models for the integration of health IT. The NPN is developing a network of health-care providers in the South Puget Sound area to share medical information over a Web-based system. INHS has a network of more than 35 sites in two states, and its use of electronic medical records and telemedicine allows for the delivery of long-distance diagnosis and quality health care to rural areas. Also, Group Health Cooperative in Seattle, WA is a national leader in terms of their implementation of personal health records for their patients, where patients are able to view their record and lab results online, make appointments online, and communicate with their doctor online.”

Today, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) submitted a statement for the Congressional Record with his support for H.R. 4954, the SAFE Port Act. The bill is a comprehensive, bi-partisan bill that will address one of the most significant challenges identified by the 9/11 Commission: an attack at our ports. As Smith said in his statement for the Floor, the legislation will “enhance our security, improve the efficiency of trade and provide necessary funding for the critical missions of our Coast Guard, Customs and Border Agents, and others involved in the maritime industry.” 

In his statement, Smith acknowledges the importance of the ports in Washington State, particularly the Port of Tacoma.  He notes that “it is the nation’s sixth largest port by cargo container volume, it handled over 2.1 million containers last year and continues to be a major economic engine in the South Sound region.”

Smith goes on to state that “the SAFE Port Act takes many critically important steps to prevent another terrorist attack on U.S. soil.  This bill strengthens our domestic and international security efforts by making improvements to high-risk cargo targeting and tracking systems.  The bill requires the Department of Homeland Security to deploy nuclear and radiological detection systems to our major ports by the end of next year.  Ports will also have the much needed resources they need through the Port Security Grant Program to improve facility security.”

He also notes that “screening containers prior to its arrival at our U.S. ports is critical and I am pleased to see that the Department of Homeland Security is working to evaluate new radiological and other detection devices for use at foreign seaports.  I believe these new technologies will arm our security officers with improved information and allow us to better protect our critical infrastructure.  The bill also includes improvements to our international screening programs: the Container Security Initiative (CSI) and the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT).”

The complete text of his statement is available on his Web site at http://www.house.gov/apps/list/hearing/wa09_smith/morenews/20060504fs.html

The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 421 – 2.

U.S. Representative Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) was pleased that today the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amended version of HR 32, the Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act. The bill now goes to the White House where it is expected that President George W. Bush will sign it into legislation. The Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act would:

1. Expand the scope of trademark violations to include sale of counterfeit labels (patches, medallions, etc.) and;

2. Increase penalties for trademark violations so that not only the counterfeit products themselves would be seized and destroyed, as required by current law, but that assets gained from or used in the production and/or sale of counterfeit goods would also be seized and destroyed. 

“This bill is a step in the right direction,” said Smith. “Federal law enforcement officials estimate that sales of counterfeit goods now total approximately $500 billion a year. That’s a staggering figure that hurts commerce in the United States. This bill would not only help American businesses by cracking down on counterfeiters, but would also strengthen our hand in negotiating trade agreements with other countries where counterfeiting of U.S. products is a major problem.  Having these stronger laws on the books in the U.S. will allow the U.S. Trade Representative to negotiate stronger trademark protections with our future trade partners.”

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash) today introduced the Invest in America Act, saying it would bring billions in new investment to America and help spur our economy.

Smith was joined by 15 original cosponsors: Reps. Cal Dooley (D-Calif.), Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.), Jim Turner (D-Texas), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas), Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), Chris John (D-La.), Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), Ed Case (D-Hawaii), Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio), Ron Kind (D-Wisc.), David Scott (D-Ga.) and Brian Baird (D-Wash.).

The bill would encourage companies with foreign subsidiaries to return their foreign profits to the United States by offering a temporary reduction in the tax rate on foreign profits.  The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates passage of the bill would result in an additional $135 billion in investment in America.

“The Invest in America Act meets the criteria for a sensible economy stimulus measure,” Smith said.  “It encourages investment and job creation right away and is fiscally responsible, unlike the Republican proposals that fail to give the economy the jump-start it needs and instead will only increase the deficit and grow the national debt.”

Republican Congressman Phil English has introduced a measure similar to Smith’s, and Smith will be working with him, and other interested Republicans, to see the proposal included in any final stimulus package that Congress passes.

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) issued the following statement in response to President George Bush's State of the Union address this evening:

"Tonight, the President failed to outline a bold, positive agenda for our nation. Instead, the speech was much of the same old rhetoric that has been the hallmark of his past State of the Union addresses.

As gas prices are again on the rise, the President needs to focus on alternative fuels instead of towards greater dependence on polluting imported fossil fuels. Since Bush took office in 2000, the amount of foreign oil consumed in the United States has gone up to sixty-six percent from fifty-eight percent. Americans now spend $200,000 a minute on foreign oil and more than $25 billion annually goes to Persian Gulf states for oil imports. The Bush Administration's Energy Bill, passed last year, preserves the status quo and contains billions in subsidies for fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas; subsidies that do not make sense if we are serious about switching to alternative energy sources and lessening our dependence on foreign oil. As a nation, we must be prepared to invest in forward-thinking and emerging technologies, renewable energy, and energy efficiency and conservation.

In tonight's speech, Bush failed to address one of the critical problems are nation faces: an irresponsible and out-of-control fiscal policy. Bush insists on making his tax cuts permanent, yet these cuts are targeted to help the wealthiest in our country, they do almost nothing to benefit the average American, and they worsen the nation's poor fiscal health. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the cost of making the tax cuts permanent is $3.4 trillion through fiscal year 2015. At a time when we have annual budget deficits approaching $500 billion and a national debt that exceeds $8 trillion, we cannot afford these tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. He also showed no plan for reining in government spending and he appears content to simply continue his fiscally irresponsible policies.

President Bush also failed to provide America tonight with a vision to adequately address the growing health care crisis that faces the nation. Health care inflation is rising at a rate of approximately 15 percent a year, and yet he gave us no plan for controlling health care costs.  In order to ensure the competitiveness of our businesses and the vibrancy of our economy, we must control the cost of health care. 

He discussed relatively minor policy changes that will have a limited impact on what is clearly a large-scale problem.  In doing so, he's demonstrated that he has neither the will nor the creativity to deal with the central and urgent challenges faced by million of American families.  We need to do better and the Bush Administration needs to lay out a health policy that controls costs and also helps all Americans get the health insurance that they deserve.

Tonight's speech discussed energy independence, our economy and our health care system, yet the proposals that the President discussed tonight do not address the fundamental issues that Americans face. In the State of the Union, Bush had the opportunity to layout a serious and thoughtful vision for the future: a future for Americans that includes investments in the latest technologies to decrease our dependence on foreign oil, a future that includes a significantly reduced national debt and a health care system that doesn't leave 45 million Americans uninsured. President Bush did not do this. Rather, he laid out policies that maintain the status quo regarding our dependence on foreign oil, no plan to curb our spending and no effective plan to help the millions of uninsured Americans.  We need real solutions to these important and difficult problems and the President failed to provide the American people with policies that will address these issues."