Press Releases

Ninth District Congressman Adam Smith rallied his colleagues today to send a letter to Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt to request that Medicare+Choice funding inequities and shortfalls are resolved this year.

“As Congress prepares to enter final negotiations on our budget for next year, I felt it was important to send a message to our Leadership on this issue,” Smith explained. “Thousands of seniors in my district alone are feeling the pain of Medicare+Choice providers leaving the market or scaling back their benefits due to funding inequities. It isn’t fair to Washington state seniors, and it’s critical that we solve this problem as soon as possible.”

Joining Smith in his letter were: Representatives Brian Baird (WA), Earl Blumenauer (OR), Norm Dicks (WA), Cal Dooley (CA), Darlene Hooley (OR), Steny Hoyer (MD), Jay Inslee (WA), Bill Luther (MN), David Minge (MN), and Martin Olav Sabo (MN).

Smith said that while he is optimistic some Medicare provisions will be included in the budget, it is still unclear what those provisions will be. 

“I am hopeful that we can fix the inequity problem. I’ve written legislation to help fix the inequities built into the system that guarantee states like Washington receive about half as much money per Medicare+Choice patient as states like Florida,” said Smith. “This needs to be a top priority of Congress this year so that seniors can continue to have the option of enrolling in Medicare+Choice, no matter where they live.”

Smith’s letter follows:

September 18, 2000

Minority Leader Richard Gephardt
U.S. Capitol Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Leader Gephardt,

As we head into the final weeks of the 106th Congress, we wanted to bring your attention to an issue that must be addressed before adjournment. Over the last year, it has become clear to us and our constituents that Congress needs to ensure Medicare patients continue to have access to choices in their health care plan.

Due to the payment inequities and administrative burdens in the Medicare+Choice program, thousands of our constituents have lost their HMO coverage during the past two years, and therefore, their health care options. The Medicare+Choice program was designed to give beneficiaries an affordable choice in their health care delivery. They also enjoy the additional benefits that the Medicare+Choice plans have often been able to provide, due to the competition and efficiencies that HMOs bring to the senior health care market.

Unfortunately, many Medicare+Choice plans have withdrawn from various counties and/or scaled back their benefit offerings. Understandably, many of our constituents are upset that they have lost the choices and benefits that they had become accustomed to in the Medicare+Choice program.

We all agree that Medicare beneficiaries deserve stable and universal health care. That is why it is critical for Congress to stabilize the Medicare+Choice program this fall so that all beneficiaries have the choice of enrolling in Medicare+Choice, not just a few that happen to live in the right geographical region.

By streamlining several administrative processes and shoring up reimbursement rates for Medicare+Choice, we will ensure that our constituents have access to stable and affordable health care options, regardless of where they live.

We look forward to working with you this fall.


Ninth District Congressman Adam Smith will speak at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, September 17 at the Auburn commuter rail station at 23 A Street SW, Auburn at the inaugural run of the Puget Sound’s first regular rush hour rail transit in more than 60 years.

“I am very excited about the Tacoma to Seattle rush hour Sounder trips,” said Smith. “The train gives South Sound residents a viable option in their daily commutes.”

The Sunder’s two weekday, rush hour 55-minute trips go from Seattle to Tacoma and stop in Sumner and Auburn. Service will expand throughout the Ninth District, going to Kent in November, Puyallup in February, and Tukwila in September.

“Since coming to Congress in 1997, transportation funding has been a top priority to me and the rest of the Washington delegation,” Smith said. “It’s very exciting to see the results and to know that they will make a real difference in our region’s transportation problems.”

Ninth District Congressman Adam Smith today voted to override President Clinton’s veto of H.R. 8, legislation to repeal the estate tax, of which he is a co-sponsor.

“The estate tax hurts countless family-owned farms and businesses,” Smith said. “Too many family farms and businesses are sold before they can be passed to the next generation or must be dismantled, mortgaged, or liquidated in order to pay the tax bill. That hurts employees, not just employers, and costs jobs.”

Smith, a co-sponsor of H.R. 8, has had a longstanding commitment to estate tax relief. Last year, he authored his own estate tax bill which would have immediately repealed the estate tax for all family-owned businesses and farms.

“Under current law, only the first $675,000 of a decedent’s estate is exempt from estate taxes. Beyond that, the value of the estate is taxed at rate ranging from 18 to 60 percent. This is extremely burdensome to family-owned businesses and farms, because while a business or farm may hold assets greater than $675,000, rare is the company or farm that has the kind of liquid cash necessary to pay the high tax bill,” Smith explained. 

On June 9, the House passed H.R. 8. Last month, President Clinton vetoed the the bill. The House was unsuccessful in its attempt to override the veto by a 274-157 margin (290 votes were necessary to override the veto).

“Unfortunately, we came up short,” said Smith. “However, I do believe that the closeness of the vote demonstrates to the President that there is a substantial number of Members of Congress – including Democrats – who believe that estate tax relief is needed, and I am still hopeful that we can make progress on this issue as we negotiate the budget this fall.”


Saying it will improve soldiers’ quality of life and continue modernizing the Army, Ninth District Congressman Adam Smith is leading efforts to bring the Army’s on-line learning initiative to Fort Lewis as a pilot project.

“eArmyU will ensure that our Army Personnel have access to educational opportunities,” said Smith. “What’s more, it provides a real service to the men and women serving in the Army and will bolster our recruitment and retention efforts.”

eArmyU is an innovative new program announced by Army Secretary Louis Caldera at Fort Lewis earlier this year that expands Army soldiers’ access to education through on-line distance learning. 

eArmyU will offer educational opportunities from a diverse consortium of colleges, universities and technical schools linked by computer technology. “Soldiers would be able to access on-line courseware anytime, anywhere,” explained Smith, “so that deployments overseas would not interfere with progress toward a degree.” Each soldier will be issued a tech package consisting of a laptop computer, printer, Internet access and technical support. eArmy U has a six-year price tag of $550 million with $50 million in FY01. 

On Monday, Smith spoke with Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera to urge Fort Lewis’s selection as a pilot site. “Secretary Caldera was very positive, and he assured me that our proposal would be closely looked at,” said Smith. “He also noted that community support, from county and city leaders to businesses to Fort Lewis personnel, would be an instrumental factor.”

Last week, Smith convened a meeting attended by leaders from throughout Pierce County. Supporters of bringing eArmyU to Fort Lewis include the Port of Tacoma, Lakewood Mayor Bill Harrison, the Washington State Software Alliance, the Frank Russell Company, and the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce.
According to the Army, the two or three pilot sites will be selected based on a number of factors including:

An adequate number of qualified soldiers;
An adequate Internet and telecommunications infrastructure; and
Portability: soldiers that are on rotations oversees.
The Army has also indicated that site selection would occur on or about September 8.

Ninth District Congressman Adam Smith and HUD Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development, Cardell Cooper, announced today two major economic development grants for Washington State.

The City of Tukwila will receive over $4 million in economic development funding for Tukwila Village, a mixed use development between a private developer, the McConkey Development Corporation, and the City of Tukwila.

The project will create a town center featuring a neighborhood public services building, two three-story buildings with office and retail space, restaurants, 24 affordable condominiums, a 214 space parking deck and public plaza. The project is expected to create 181 new jobs.

“This is a good example of the direction economic development needs to go in our area,” said Smith. “The Puget Sound has been blessed with a great deal of economic prosperity, but that economic development has not been spread evenly throughout the region. This funding will help to spread some of that prosperity so that South King County isn’t stuck with airports and garbage dumps for its economic development.”

Specifically, Tukwila will receive a $455,000 Economic Development Initiative (EDI) Grant, as well as $3,630,000 in Section 108 loan guarantees. Section 108 loan guarantees provides communities with a source of financing for economic development, housing rehabilitation, public facilities and large scale physical development projects. The EDI funds will pay for interest during the first two years of the Section 108 loan repayment.