Press Releases

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today joined 17 other moderate Democrats to introduce a bill to deliver affordable, universal prescription drug coverage for all seniors.  The group hopes the bill, the Medicare Rx Now Act of 2003, will be permitted as the Democratic substitute to the Republican bill when it comes to the floor.

“I am proud to be part of the group introducing an affordable prescription drug benefit that provides coverage to the people who need the most help, that is fiscally responsible and permits coverage to go uninterrupted,” said Smith.  “I know how important it is that seniors have access to the medicines they need to stay healthy. 

“Back in Washington state, I hear constantly from seniors who can’t afford to take the drugs their doctors prescribe and they’re asking for our help now,” continued Smith.  “This centrist proposal provides a drug benefit right now to those seniors most in need – those with high drug expenditures and low-income seniors.”

The Medicare Rx Now Act of 2003 provides a prescription drug benefit within existing Medicare Part B coverage by offering universal benefits through an enhanced drug benefit for beneficiaries with more than $4,000 in total drug costs (rather than out-of-pocket expenses), a benefit for low-income seniors with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level and the use of Medicare-approved prescription drug card plans.  The plan delivers universal eligibility for all Medicare Part B recipients and does not increase premiums.  The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated the cost of this proposal at under $400 billion.

“This is a plan we can enact now to help seniors now –without fear of forcing seniors out of their coverage and out of their family doctor’s office, without fear of breaking the bank, and without fear of forcing seniors to continue to choose between basic life expenses and their health,” argued Smith.  “We’ve been debating this issue for six years in Congress, and it’s high time we got a common sense, affordable, passable plan on the table as a first step towards a larger solution.  Our bill helps hard-hit seniors now.”

Without invoking government-mandated price controls on prescription drugs, the Medicare Rx Now Act of 2003 utilizes purchasing power and competition to keep drugs affordable, both for seniors’ out of pocket costs and for the Medicare program in covering the drugs. Pooling Medicare recipients and allowing several prescription drug plans to compete for their business will help keep costs down.  This plan offers Medicare-approved prescription drug card plans for all Americans – helping all Americans keep drug costs down.

Click here for highlights of the Medicare Rx Now Act of 2003

House Centrist Democrats, led by Rep. Cal Dooley (D-Calif.) and Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), will unveil their prescription drug plan at a press conference tomorrow – Wednesday, April 2 – at 11:00 a.m.

The Medicare Rx Now Act of 2003 is an affordable, universal approach to providing all seniors with the prescription drug coverage they need.

The bill provides a prescription drug benefit through existing Medicare Part B coverage by offering universal benefits through an enhanced drug benefit for beneficiaries with more than $4,000 in total drug costs (rather than out-of-pocket expenses), a benefit for low-income seniors with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level and the use of Medicare-approved prescription drug card plans. 

WHAT:              Press Conference on Centrist Prescription Drug Plan

WHO:                Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.)
                           Rep. Cal Dooley (Calif.)
                           Rep. Ellen Tauscher (Calif.)
                           Rep. Ron Kind (Wisc.)
                           Rep. Jim Davis (Fla.)
                           Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.)
                           Rep. Jim Cooper (Tenn.)
                           Rep. Charlie Stenholm (Tex.)

WHEN:              Wednesday, April 2, 2003
                           11:00a.m. to 11:30a.m.

WHERE:           House Radio-TV Gallery, H-321

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) announced the creation of a special page on his website, http://www.house.gov/adamsmith/startPage/Iraq.html, to help constituents better understand the situation in Iraq and feel comfortable about the security of our nation.

“These are difficult times right now with our men and women overseas in harm’s way.  In an effort to help my constituents, stay on top of the situation both in the Middle East and here at home, I’ve put together a website with information about the conflict, answers to some frequently asked questions from constituents and information about security here in the states,” said Smith.  “It’s critical at this time that you feel comfortable with the level of information that is out there and that your questions are being answered.  I hope you’ll visit the site and let me know how I can be of further help to you at this time.”

The site, http://www.house.gov/adamsmith/startPage/Iraq.html, contains:

  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about U.S. involvement in Iraq
  • Resources for troops, reservists and families
  • Special information for deployed reservists and their families
  • Information on how citizens can support our troops
  • Helpful guides for parents and teachers to discuss the war with children
  • A quick guide to understanding the Department of Homeland Security Terrorism Advisory System
  • Resources from the Department of Homeland Security for citizens
  • A Guide to Citizen Preparedness from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to help individuals prepare themselves and their families for potential disasters
  • Washington State's "Emergency Resources" Guide
  • Kids Information on Deployment Stuff (K.I.D.S.) - a website for children from the Department of Defense

Smith has also assembled a range of information on legal protections for service members (active duty, National Guard and reservists) while they are abroad, benefits available to service members and their families, education opportunities, military pay and withholding, and other support resources for service members and their families.  That site is located at: http://www.house.gov/adamsmith/constituent/service.html.

 

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.), only Democrat to serve on both the House Armed Services Committee and House International Relations Committee, made the following statement today, following the news of a U.S.-led attack against Iraq:

“As the military action begins in Iraq, my thoughts are with the coalition troops and their families.  The sacrifices made by these brave men, women, and children are enormous.  I am especially grateful to the troops of McChord Air Force Base and Fort Lewis and our community’s National Guard and Reservists who are putting their lives on the line for freedom and liberty not only for America, but for the entire world.  We are honored to have you and your families as part of our community and are grateful for your service.

“In this time of such international instability, we must also come together to be ever-vigilant in protecting Americans and American interests from terrorism.  Our communities’ first responders – the police, medical, and fire personnel – also deserve our enormous gratitude and support in these trying times. 

“Finally, let us not forget about the countless innocent Iraqis who have suffered greatly under the rule of Saddam Hussein.  We must keep our commitment to them once Hussein is removed from power and work for a more stable, safe, and prosperous Middle East region.”

Today Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) voted in favor of “The Armed Services Tax Fairness Act,” H.R. 1307, to provide $835 million in tax relief for men and women serving abroad and their families. 

“I am proud to support the men and women of the armed services who are working hard to keep our country safe,” said Smith.  “Those in the military give so much to preserve the security and prosperity of this country, and they deserve to be recognized and rewarded for their service.  This common sense tax relief for members of our military is one way that we can begin to repay their efforts.”

The Armed Services Tax Fairness Act provides tax relief to members of the armed services including provisions to extend the deadline for filing tax returns, exempt from taxes the death gratuity payments for survivors, create a tax deduction (whether or not an individual itemizes) for reservists and members of the National Guard of up to $1500 for travel more than 100 miles from home, and suspend the requirement that uniformed service members must have owned and used a home as a principal residence for at least two of five years to avoid capital gains taxes.  The act will save military families $85 million in taxes in 2003 and $835 million over the next decade.   

“Now more than ever, our task is to stand behind our courageous men and women in uniform and to stand beside their families.  The coming weeks will be difficult for us all, but especially hard on our troops and their families here at home,” said Smith.  “I am proud to represent Fort Lewis and McChord, as well as the thousands of military retirees, veterans, military families, and reservists in our area and I will continue to work to ensure their safety, their success and their security – at home and abroad.”

With state-side families firmly in his mind, Smith is currently working on a bill to restore Impact Aid funding, cut in the president’s budget, to assist elementary and secondary schools that teach large numbers of children of military personnel.  The funding helps schools, like the Clover Park schools serving Fort Lewis Army Base and McChord Air Force Base families, address relocation and deployment stress issues, increase security and force protection for schools on military installations, and foster partnerships between schools and installations. 

The Montgomery G.I. Bill (MGIB) has traditionally been one of tools used to make military service an attractive career option.  But we have to do a better job of providing better and more competitive educational benefits for all enlisted military members, and so Smith is working on legislation, similar to the MGIB bills he introduced last year, to extend the MGIB “enrollment period” so that service members have more time to make a decision on whether or not to enroll in the program, provide an enrollment opportunity for military members who declined enrollment in the Veterans Education Assistance Program from December 31, 1976 through July 1, 1985, and allow active-duty service members to transfer their GI benefits to a spouse or child after agreeing to sign up for an additional four years of duty. 

“It is critically important that we do all we can to support both our troops overseas and their families here in the states, and unfortunately the president made a huge mistake when he cut funding specifically for schools serving military families while sending parents to fight overseas,” said Smith.  “We’re going to work hard to make sure that mistakes like that don’t happen again while we’re fighting this war.  Combined with the Armed Services Tax Fairness Act the House passed today, the changes I’m proposing in Impact Aid and to the Montgomery G.I. Bill are a good first step in taking care of our military service members and their families – both during the current conflict and beyond.”