Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) has "consistently worked for better
overall health care with a focus on ensuring that Medicare Part D works
effectively for seniors and the disabled."
Credit: Office of Sen. Gordon Smith
Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) received the AMA's Nathan B. Davis Award for
Outstanding Government Service after being nominated in an effort led by
He was honored in the category of "Outstanding Senator" for his
work on behalf of Medicare and Medicaid patients, patients in the Medicare
Part D prescription drug program, people with mental illness, and other public
health causes such as suicide prevention.
The award was presented last month at a banquet hosted by the AMA in
Washington, D.C. Smith was nominated by APA and five other organizations with
the support of the Oregon Psychiatric Association.
The five organizations were the American Academy of Child and Adolescent
Psychiatry, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association for Geriatric
Psychiatry, American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, and Oregon Medical
"Sen. Smith has consistently worked for better overall health care
with a focus on ensuring that Medicare Part D works effectively for seniors
and the disabled," according to the nominating letter signed by APA
President Pedro Ruiz, M.D. "As chairman of the Senate Special Committee
on Aging, Sen. Smith has held numerous hearings addressing key health care
issues affecting seniors, as well as others. These include the Medicare Part D
drug benefit implementation, managed care and cost savings in Medicaid,
generic drug use, suicide, HIV, health care globalization, embryonic stem cell
research, and care in national emergencies.
"When the President's 2005 budget called for up to $60 billion in
Medicaid cuts, Sen. Smith rose above partisanship to oppose these cuts, to
protect low-income and/or disabled individuals from a benefits
reduction," the letter stated. "He had bipartisan success in
reaping a substantial, sixfold reduction in cuts to $10 billion during this
budget resolution process."
Smith also turned the tragedy of his son's suicide into positive public
policy by obtaining unanimous Senate consent for passage of the Garrett Lee
Smith Memorial Act in September 2004, which has authorized federal funding
since 2005 for programs to prevent youth suicide (Psychiatric News,
November 19, 2004).
In October 2004 the federal Campus Suicide Prevention grant program was
implemented under the act. "The impact of this act on youth suicide
prevention is impressive," the letter stated. "Designated for 2007
are $5 million for mental and behavioral health services on campus, $30
million for youth suicide early intervention and prevention strategies, and $5
million for a technical assistance center."
In March 2006 Smith published Remembering Garrett: One Family's Battle
Against Depression, a memorial to his son and his struggle with
depression, and a personal account of the family's efforts to cope with his
suicide. The book was published by Carroll and Graf Publishers, New York.
"His book will encourage and inspire some to seek help for themselves
or others," the letter stated. "In this way, Sen. Smith sparked
public dialog about mental illness, its serious impact on our lives, and
reasons why access to mental health services is so essential."
APA Director of Government Relations Nicholas Meyers told Psychiatric
News that "there couldn't have been a better choice" for the
award than Smith, who Meyers said has been "extremely helpful to
APA" on a wide range of issues.
"He led the fight in the Senate to rescind GOP-directed Medicaid
cuts, and in doing that he aligned himself with Democrats, which took a lot of
courage," Meyers said. "We were very glad that we were able to
garner so much support for the nomination from the other specialty