Press Releases

Today, U.S. Representative Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) voted for the Conference Report on the FY 2006, Military Quality of Life and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act. This bill rectifies the shortfall in veterans’ health care and also included Smith’s request for a $1.42 million earmark for construction of the Homeland Security Multi-Functional Education Center at Camp Murray, near Tacoma, Washington.

“Included in today’s bill was an additional $1.2 billion to remedy the shortfall in veterans’ health care for this year,” said Smith. “This funding is a result of Democrats working with veterans’ organizations throughout the year to put the pressure on the Republican leadership to make sure that veterans get the benefits they deserve.

Smith also notes that, “more than 50,000 veterans are waiting in line for at least six months for veterans’ health care, and the number of new enrollees waiting for their first appointment has increased by over 500 percent in the last year.  That problem will only get worse with the growing numbers of returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan.  It is long past time for veterans to get the health care funding that they deserve.”

Also included in the bill was a $1.42 million earmark for construction of the Homeland Security Multi-Functional Education Center at Camp Murray.

This funding would go toward the construction of a 6,190 square foot, single story multi-functional Homeland Security educational center.

“The lack of proper facilities has a negative impact and individual readiness of our Guardsmen and women,” said Smith. “This directly improves the readiness of Army National Guard units as well as first responders in the supported area.”

Training is currently being conducted in a WWII-era wooden building modified to administrative and educational spaces, without adequate sanitary facilities, HVAC, fire protection, or functional work space. The new facility will support the 205th Training Regiment of the Washington Army National Guard, which has the mission of training Guard units in the Pacific Northwest.

Today, U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) voted for the conference report on the Fiscal Year 2006 Transportation, Treasury, and Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, and the District of Columbia. This bill provides funding for these federal agencies and the District of Columbia.

“In a difficult budget year, I was pleased that I was able to secure funding for two high priority projects, the Foss Waterway Development Authority in Tacoma ($200,000) and a transit facility/parking garage near Highline Community College ($850,000),” said Smith. “The funds will be used to make these important assets in our community more accessible to the public.”

The funding to the Foss Waterway Development Authority will be used to supplement a similar sized contribution by the City of Tacoma to restore an historic city wharf and construct a public esplanade. Once these funds are dedicated, an additional $15.4 million in private funding will be used to restore an adjacent historic building, part of which sits on the wharf, and that houses a non-profit maritime museum and education facility.

The funds for the transit facility will be used to fund an initial study, planning and design of the Intermodal transit facility and parking garage for Southwest King County and Highline Community College.

“This project is important to the community and will dramatically improve transit and vehicular access for Highline Community College students as well as commuters,” said Smith. “Located next to the college, the facility will be a transit hub and will hold approximately 600 parking spots. Transit accessibility is an important component of reducing stress on employees and students as well as providing enhanced transit and transportation options for the surrounding community.”

Construction for the facility is scheduled to begin in 2006. The facility will provide essential access to transit service for local residents and offer transit transfer options for commuters, patients and students of Highline Hospital and Highline College. It will also offer park-and-ride options for commuters, connections and storage for bicycle commuters, and dedicated stalls for van pool/ car pool parking and community flex cars.

Today, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) voted against H.R. 3010, the conference report for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act for FY06. He made the following statement:

“I was pleased that today Congress rejected this conference report, the latest example that the Republican majority in Congress is out of touch with the values of the American people. This legislation failed because it does not address the critical needs that exist today. We need to create policies that allow for greater innovation, expanded educational opportunity, improved public health and important medical research.  This legislation clearly failed to meet that standard. 

It is my hope that when this bill is reconsidered in Conference Committee, Members from both sides of the aisle will work on a positive agenda that moves America forward.  Too many citizens rely on important federal programs in this bill, like Safe and Drug Free Schools, Pell Grants, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and job training programs – to name a few – for this legislation to be held up by the Majority’s extreme politics and ineffective governing. I will continue to work with my colleagues to develop policy that is not only fiscally sound but that represents the priorities of the American people.” 
 

Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris (WA-05) today introduced the Medicaid Access Project through Information Technology (MAP IT). The bill will allow for the creation of a demonstration project that will provide a more efficient and effective system for managing chronic disease by using health information technology on disease management for the Medicaid population.

“Under the current paper-based healthcare system, patients and their doctors lack instant access to medical information,” said U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09). “This lack of connectivity and shared knowledge leads to medical errors, increased costs, and inefficiency.  This pilot project would leverage information technology as a tool to increase the efficiency of the healthcare system, improve the quality of care for Medicaid patients and it will decrease costs to states and the federal government, which are facing record deficits.”

The demonstration project will give chronic disease patients and caregivers access to their own medical records and to a single source of information on chronic disease. The program will include several channels of communication with health educators, as well as a Personal Health Record, to allow patients to record and track their own health information. Information and access methods will be tailored to the patient’s needs. Physicians and other caregivers will have access to complete, current treatment and health status information for chronic disease patients, using the virtual case management tool.

“One of my top priorities is to provide access to quality, affordable health care,” said U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris (WA-05). “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. By providing online access for managing chronic disease, we can improve health care for Medicaid recipients and provide states with an alternative to cutting services or raising taxes.”

Combined federal and state spending on Medicaid over the next ten years is estimated to be $14.5 trillion.  The federal government has proposed significant reductions in funding for Medicaid. This increases the financial burden on states, forcing them to either decrease Medicaid enrollment and services, or raise taxes. Expenses from the care of individuals with chronic conditions are a major part of state Medicaid budgets. Facilitating access to chronic disease management program through information technology would save states money on their overall Medicaid budget.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will select at least four proposals to perform the demonstration projects from those submitted by states. The demonstrations will be for two years with an evaluation afterwards to determine the amount of cost savings resulting from the project.

 

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) made the following statement today in honoring Veteran’s Day:

“Today, we honor the men and women who have served in the United States military from the days of the America Revolution to today, when our servicemen and women are engaged around the world. We have the best-trained, most dedicated military force in the world.  Each day they demonstrate that they are the very best and brightest of our nation. I'm proud to represent so many servicemembers and their families.

I honor the sacrifice that so many veterans have made for the freedoms we enjoy today. As the members of our military continue to stand in harm’s way to defend liberty and protect the innocent, I remain humbled by their service and commitment to our values. As we celebrate this Veteran’s Day, let us remember those in the past who defended America and her interests abroad and those who work today to protect our freedom and our democracy.”