Press Releases

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) announced his decision to vote against the Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act of 2003.  Prescription drug coverage in this bill is discontinuous and leaves many seniors paying a monthly premium while not receiving any benefits.  After the initial coverage limit of $2,200, beneficiaries are forced to pay 100 percent of the cost until total drug spending reaches approximately $5,100, after which the plan will pick up the majority of costs.  This confusing patchwork quilt of coverage results in an insufficient program for beneficiaries.

“The access and affordability of prescription drugs is critical to our health care system,” Smith said. “It is important that consumers are able to obtain affordable prescription drug coverage immediately, that the consumers who need help the most get it, and that the new prescription drug plan fits within the constraints of the federal budget.  The current bill before Congress does not conform to these principles.”

Beginning in 2010, this bill also includes a “premium support demonstration program” that would move towards privatizing Medicare, coercing seniors into HMO’s, and raising premiums for traditional Medicare beneficiaries.  Additionally, the legislation creates a $12 billion slush fund to subsidize and induce HMO’s into participating in the new program.  This puts Medicare at an immediate disadvantage and results in adverse selection where those seniors who stay with traditional Medicare pay more for their health coverage.  Medicare was created because the private health care system could not effectively provide affordable health insurance coverage for seniors.

“At the beginning of the 108th Congress, I introduced the “Medicare Rx Now Act of 2003”, with several of my colleagues. I am proud to have offered an affordable prescription drug benefit that provides coverage to the people who need the most help, is fiscally responsible, and permits coverage to go uninterrupted,” Smith said. “I am disappointed that the House did not consider this bill and instead chose to go forward with a plan that will undermine the structure of Medicare, threaten those seniors who have good drug coverage now through retiree health plans, is not continuous, forces seniors to pay a monthly premium while not receiving any benefit and is not fiscally responsible.

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) is pleased to announce today that the Department of Homeland Security, through the Urban Area Security Initiative, has given the City of Seattle and Sound Transit more than $17 million to help enhance their overall security and preparedness level to prevent, respond and recover from acts of terrorism. 

 “Washington state, like many other states, has been feeling the financial burden of needing to increase security for our ports, infrastructure, water sources, power plants and airports,” Smith said. “I’m glad that the Administration is recognizing this critical need and are taking the necessary steps in funding our homeland security.”

As one of the largest grant recipients, Seattle was granted over $16 million, based upon a Department of Homeland Security formula that takes into consideration a city’s critical infrastructure, population density and credible threat information.  In addition to these funds, another $800,000 was awarded to Sound Transit to enhance the security of its passengers and assets.  Sound Transit was chosen based upon the number of annual riders and overall track mileage.  Allowable uses of the funds include installation of physical barricades, area monitoring systems, integrated communication systems and prevention planning, training and exercises.

 

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) is disappointed that the Republican majority failed to pass fully-funded concurrent receipt and eliminate the Disabled Veteran’s tax.  A Democratic motion to recommit, proposed during consideration of the fiscal year 2004 Department of Defense authorization bill, would have eliminated the law which reduces a veteran’s retirement benefit on a dollar-for-dollar basis by the amount the veteran receives in disability compensation.  The measure would have fully funded both benefits to veterans. It failed by a vote of 217-188.

“In effect, this is a Disabled Veterans Tax, which taxes our veteran’s income at 100%,” said Smith. “On the eve of Veteran’s Day, it is disappointing that a majority of the House can’t see fit to stand up for our veterans. In my District alone, veterans are losing $33.5 million a year in benefits.  It is unfair to impose this tax on the men and women who have served our country so proudly and who have sacrificed for the freedoms that we enjoy every day.”

Acknowledging that this was a partial victory for veterans, Smith voted for final passage of the authorization bill which included partial relief to approximately one-third of eligible individuals (20-year retirees with a Purple Heart or combat-related disability, including Guard and Reserve). The agreement phases in over 11 years full concurrent receipt for the retirees with at least 50% disability, leaving two-thirds subject to the disabled veterans’ tax.

Smith has cosponsored the Retired Pay Restoration Act of 2003, passage of which would end the Disabled Veterans Tax for any veteran with over 20 years of military service.  Smith also signed the discharge petition associated with this bill that would force the bill to the floor for a vote and is actively engaging other Members of the House of Representatives to sign the petition and support the Retired Pay Restoration Act.

The current offset dates back to 1891, and it affects approximately 560,000 disabled military retirees.  Military retirees are the only federal employees affected by the offset.  For 18 years, legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives to correct this long-standing inequity.  The Retired Pay Restoration Act has received strong bipartisan support in Congress.

“I believe that all our veterans should be justly compensated for their service,” said Smith.  “I remain committed to seeing fully-funded concurrent receipt enacted and will do all I can to further its progress.”

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) is pleased to congratulate the King County Sheriff’s Office, the Green River Task Force and King County Sheriff Dave Reichert on solving the nation’s largest serial killer case. Over the last 20 years, detectives have worked through thousands of tips, followed up on missing women cases, collected thousands of pieces of evidence and eliminated potential suspects.

“I hope that the conclusion of this case will bring a sense of closure and comfort to the families of the victims,” Smith said. “I am proud of the efforts by the men and women involved in solving this case. Over the last few years, I am pleased that my staff and I were able to secure federal funds to help bring this case to a successful conclusion.”

Since fiscal year 2002, Smith was able to secure $750,000 for the King County Sheriff’s Office for DNA testing  and electronic records, which aided detectives in eliminating suspects and gathering evidence.  Smith was also instrumental in securing funding for task force members based upon the extraordinary scope and magnitude of the investigation.

“These grisly murders have haunted my state and district for over 20 years.  I am thankful that the case has been solved.”

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma), along with seven other members of the Washington state delegation have signed a letter to the chairmen of the Congressional appropriations committees that in the final version of the supplemental appropriations bill extending TRICARE medical insurance coverage to National Guard and Reserve members who are unemployed or otherwise have no employer-provided health insurance coverage.

“This is a readiness issue,” said Major General Timothy Lowenberg, Adjutant General, Washington state military department. “We need to ensure that our most valuable resource, our servicemen and women and their families, are taken care of when our nation calls them to serve.”

Currently, TRICARE benefits are provided only when a Guard or Reserve soldier is mobilized for federal service and actually deploys.  Currently, 21% of Guard and Reserve members have no health insurance which often results in health problems that delay deployments or leave soldiers medically unfit for deployment.  This added language would ensure that every member of the Guard and Reserve, and their families, have medical insurance year-round.  In addition, the language would make TRICARE coverage available when a member receives orders to deploy, rather than withholding coverage until the member actually deploys.  It would also allow members and their families to retain TRICARE benefits for up to six months following their return from deployment to ease the transition back to employer-provided private health insurance.

“At this critical time in our Nation’s history, it is vital that we do all we can to support the servicemen and women and their families,” Smith said. “The members of our military are sacrificing everyday for the people on the home front and it’s important to make sure that they and their families are taken care of so that they can focus on the mission at hand.”