Press Releases

Congressman Adam Smith (D-09, Tacoma) will spend July 1st talking with Seniors about problems with the Medicare program and describing some of his proposals to begin to address them.  Some topics that Smith is likely to discuss during the day include the current decline in access to doctors, hospitals, nurses and home health care for seniors on Medicare in Washington state; rising prescription drug costs and lack of generics in the marketplace; and his “MediFAIR” bill, calling for fairness in national Medicare reimbursement rates.  The following is the schedule of events for the day:  

Members of the media are invited and encouraged to attend these meetings.  For further information or to speak with Smith during the day, please contact Katharine Lister at (202) 226-8454.

9:30a.m. – 10:00a.m. 
Congressman Adam Smith meets with members of WA Citizen Action from the Ninth District to talk about Medicare and the cost of prescription drugs.

Where: Kent Senior Center 
600 East Smith Street, Kent

10:00a.m. - 11:15a.m. 
Congressman Adam Smith will convene the quarterly meeting of his Senior Advisory Board to discuss their concerns about current legislation in Congress, the state of health care in Washington and what steps should be taken to ensure that seniors are treated fairly and with respect.
Where: Kent Senior Center, The Dry Crafts Room 
600 East Smith Street, Kent

12:00 noon - 1:00p.m. 
Congressman Adam Smith will visit with the Des Moines Senior Center to answer their questions and listen to their concerns about legislation in Congress – topics will most likely range from the war on terrorism to transportation in the state.

Where: Des Moines Masonic Lodge 
corner of 24th Ave South and 223rd Street, Des Moines

New Democrat Coalition (NDC) co-chair Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today joined other NDC members to unveil the group’s “e-genda 2002.”  The annually released document is the NDC’s comprehensive technology policy agenda, outlining goals and priorities for the coming year.  

E-genda 2002 emphasizes critical New Democrat efforts on investment in workforce education, privacy standards, providing greater access to overseas markets, encouraging innovation and promoting e-commerce, while also calling for new policy initiatives such as public-private partnerships to improve homeland security and win the war against terrorism, a balanced approach to digital rights management, open trade and travel with Cuba and restoring investor confidence in our financial markets.

“The e-genda outlines policies that we need to adopt in order to keep our country poised to compete in the global New Economy,” said Smith. “One of the most important aspects of this document is the commitment it makes to education and worker training.  In Washington state, for example, the high technology sector employs more people than does Boeing.   Many jobs in the tech sector, however, repeatedly go unfilled due to shortages of qualified workers.  Fifty-nine percent of firms that were hiring new employees last year reported difficulty finding skilled employees and as of January of this year, there were 115,000 dislocated workers in the state.  We need to do a better job of taking advantage of the tremendous opportunities technology provides, not just in Washington, but nationally.”

Technology issues are critically important specifically to the Ninth District, argued Smith. “Growth in the technology sector actually has a far bigger impact in the South Sound than it does up in Redmond and the Eastside,” Smith explained. “I want to encourage technology companies to grow and create good paying jobs in the South Sound, and that is happening.  The entire Puget Sound economy benefits from the growth in technology, and the resulting surge in job creation.  Some of the areas I am committed to working on to promote and expand the South Sound include improving higher education for our state, creating an setting that is friendly to business and job growth, and promoting innovations like comprehensive broadband and securing greater investments in research and development.  Today’s release of the e-genda is one step towards making all of that happen.”

Smith was joined at the release by fellow NDC co-chairs Reps. Jim Davis (D-Fla.) and Ron Kind (D-Wis.), as well as key NDC executive council members Reps. Cal Dooley (D-Calif.), Jane Harman (D-Calif.), Darlene Hooley (D-Ore.), and Jim Moran (D-Va.).

The New Democrat Coalition is a group of 74 pro-growth, centrist Democrats in the House of Representatives founded in 1997.  Since then, two-thirds of Democrats elected to the House have joined the NDC, making it the largest and one of the most influential caucuses in the House

The full text of e-genda 2002, along with an executive summary and the New Democrat Coalition’s Record of Results, and can be found online at:

On June 22, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) will host a town hall meeting in Auburn with interested district residents to talk about transportation issues in the state.  All district residents are invited join him for an open dialogue on this and other important community issues — including the economy, energy, tax cuts and education.

Saturday, June 22nd — Auburn
10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Auburn Public Library
1102 Auburn Way South, Auburn

Staff from Congressman Adam Smith’s District Office will be on hand to help with any specific problems related to the federal government. Any questions about the Town Hall Meetings should be directed to the Congressman’s District office in Tacoma at (253) 593-6600.  For a recent audio statement from the Congressman on the Medicare reimbursement rate problem in the state, visit our website at

Today, the House passed the Estate Tax Repeal Act, H.R. 2143.  The following is a statement from Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) on the circumstances surrounding his decision to vote against its passage, breaking with his previous support of the repeal.  

“Fiscal responsibility must be a guiding principle of our government.  My constituents have told me again and again that government must live within its means and balance the budget.  I agree and have consistently fought for more fiscal discipline.

“That is why I am voting against permanent repeal of the estate tax.  I have always supported estate tax cuts - I authored legislation to completely eliminate the estate tax for all family farms and businesses, and have consistently voted to cut and even eliminate it altogether in years past.

“However, this vote today is simply another step down the path of fiscal irresponsibility.  In the past year and a half, our economy has been in recession and was further damaged by the terrorist attacks surrounding September 11.   Instead of responding with tough choices and fiscal discipline, however, Congress and the Administration have responded by passing a $15 billion airline bailout bill, a $30 billion supplemental appropriations bill, a very wasteful and bloated farm bill, and a tax cut that will cost $2 trillion over the next ten years.  Even though I voted against these things, the truth is that they have all been signed into law by the President or will be very soon, and so their fiscal impact is now a reality and must be taken into account.

“There has been no serious effort by Congressional Leaders or the White House to design and implement a bipartisan balanced budget plan.  The result has been a staggering reversal from the once-large budget surplus projections to large budget deficit projections.  Budget deficits mean that we use Social Security and Medicare revenues for other programs, putting us in a terrible position to deal with the entitlement crises that are coming in a decade due to demographic changes and the escalating costs of health care.  We are falling further and further into debt, and interest payments on that debt will eat up an increasingly large share of taxpayer dollars - currently about 12 cents of each tax dollar.

“We’re moving in the wrong direction, and I cannot vote for legislation that will have such a large fiscal impact on our budget without a corresponding plan to return to fiscal discipline and get our budget balanced again within the next few years.  Let me be clear: if the permanent repeal of the estate tax were part of a long-term balanced budget strategy, I would support it.  Unfortunately, in this context, it is one more example of Congress and the Administration’s lack of fiscal responsibility, and I cannot support it at this time.”

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.-09) today introduced legislation alongside Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to rectify the nation’s Medicare reimbursement rate inequalities.  The legislation is co-sponsored by Washington Representatives Norm Dicks (D-06), Jim McDermott (D-07), Brian Baird (D-03), Jay Inslee (D-01), and Rick Larsen (D-02). 

The federal Medicare system, which covers health care for the nation’s senior citizens, works by reimbursing doctors, hospitals, home health care, nursing homes - and in the case of the Medicare + Choice system, HMO’s - for the services they provide to Medicare recipients.

Washington state has been hit especially hard by cuts to the Medicare program and many insurance companies are dropping out of the program because discrepancies in reimbursement rates from state to state, even from county to county, have left very few economic incentives for participation.  

Washington state’s rates are low because the state worked very hard to be efficient and eliminate waste and fraud from the Medicare program and as a result, was locked into one of the lowest Medicare provider reimbursement rates in the country. A managed care organization receives a base reimbursement rate of $465.97 for a Medicare patient in Pierce County but $809.90 for a Medicare patient in Dade County (Miami, Florida).

H.R. 4850, The MediFAIR Act will ensure that Washington’s seniors are treated on par with seniors around the country.  It will stop punishing our state’s health care system and our seniors and instead reward the efficiency and good results we’ve produced.

The bill will increase Washington’s reimbursement rates to the national average and direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to require other states to become more efficient and cut waste in their health care systems.

“I strongly believe that we need a long-term solution to our Medicare problem.  We have to face the reality that we have a ‘perfect storm’ brewing: health care inflation is rising quickly, and, as the baby boomers retire, we’ll have an enormous influx of seniors into the program and health care costs are continuing to grow,” Smith said.  “We need fundamental reform that focuses on healthy outcomes, gives seniors health care options, provides coverage for prescription drugs, and ensures the program is viable for future generations.  The MediFAIR Act is a good first step, ensuring that all our seniors are treated fairly.”