Members of Congress Offer Prescription for General Motors’ Competitive Disadvantage

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and two other Members of Congress today sent a letter to the CEO of General Motors, Mr. Richard Wagoner, Jr., to propose a different kind of auto industry rescue plan that eliminates the competitive disadvantage of inflated health care costs.

As health care costs continue to spiral out of control, the brunt is borne in large part by employers that provide health care. General Motors and other U.S.automakers have significantly higher health care costs than their international competitors — as much as $1400 per car. In the letter, Members of Congress point out that the adoption of H.R. 676, the United States National Health Care Act, would level the playing field and stimulate the economy.

Under H.R. 676, all American residents would receive a National Health Insurance card. The card would be good for health care services at all health care facilities across the country in the National Health Insurance system. Families would be able to choose any licensed doctor and any hospital. There would be no premium, deductible or co-payment. No one would receive a bill for any medically necessary health care services, and by eliminating inefficiencies, the plan would cost the same amount of money that is now spent on health care.

Representatives Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and John Conyers (D-MI) also signed the letter.


  1. Eliza Jane Dodd on February 20, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Costa Rica’s universal health care is considered one of the best healthcare systems in Latin
    America. Private care providers are very reasonably priced and world class, with many doctors that
    speak excellent English and who have studied abroad in Europe, Canada or the US. Prices for treatments
    in Costa Rica can be as much as 50% less than what you will find in the U.S., with the quality being the
    same or better. The medical landscape and hospital outlook in Costa Rica is far greater than any other
    country in Latin America, and primary care for children is becoming the focus of the Costa Rican
    Costa Rica nationalized its health care system shortly after abolishing their military in the 1940’s.
    The World Health Organization (WHO) cites that healthcare costs in Costa Rica are only a 10th of the
    cost of comparable care in the US, though Costa Rican life expectancy is longer than that of the United
    States. Costa Rica is home to over 30 hospitals and more than 250 government sponsored clinics
    throughout the country known as “Ebais”. The Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) is the agency
    responsible for providing health services in Costa Rica. Although CCSS covers Costa Rican nationals, it
    also provides affordable medical service to any foreign resident or visitor. Residents, both national and
    foreign, can also buy health insurance from the state monopoly Instituto de Seguro Nacional (INS).
    Expats may also join the CCSS by paying a small monthly fee based on income. Costa Rica’s private
    network has over 200 affiliated doctors, hospitals, labs, and pharmacies. Since most Costa Ricans, as
    well as residents, have access to free or extremely affordable healthcare, the country rates higher in
    delivering quality health services to their population than the U.S.
    Quepos ‐ The hospital in Quepos (Dr. Max Teran) provides emergency medical care for the Quepos and
    Manuel Antonio area. It is a well‐respected hospital widely used by locals and tourists alike. However
    this hospital does not have a trauma center and seriously injured patients are transported to San José.
    This hospital is found on the Costanera south en route to the airport. The telephone number is 777‐
    0922. There are also great clinics in town that treat “emergency” style patients very quickly and very
    cheaply. The care is phenomenal, the staff is kind, and the bill is always lower than expected.
    San Isidro ‐ The Hospital Labrador is a large, advanced hospital featuring multiple wings. The founding
    partners of this hospital are also in charge of managing each one of the three main areas that give
    services. Dr. Solano supervises emergencies and hospitalization of patients, Dr. Rodríguez manages the
    area of surgery, and Dr. Masís is in charge of gynecology and obstetrics. (
    Cortez ‐ The ultra‐modern 85,000 square foot Hospital De Osa located in the town of Cortez, in the
    Puntarenas providence is now open. The hospital is the newest in Costa Rica and features multiple
    treatment facilities including a state of the art emergency room, a pediatrics wing, a neurology center,
    and an obstetrics and gynecology center. The hospital will also provide family and internal medicine as
    well as a clinic for routine and preventative medicine. The location was chosen due to the large influx of
    Americans, Canadians and Europeans moving into the area and to replace the aging facility in Cortez
    built by the United Fruit Company.
    San Jose ‐ The best hospitals in San Jose are CIMA (, ranked in TOP 3 of ALL
    hospitals in Central America), Clinica Biblica (, and Hospital Nacional de Ninos
    (considered the best children’s hospital in all of Central America, centrally located, features 250 beds).

  2. John Barker on July 19, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    It is not the first time that a proposal like Rep. Kucinich has been offered to General Motors. Walter Ruether made such a proposal in the 1940s but General Motors rejected the idea of single-payer saying it was too socialistic. At the time, General Motors was high and mighty bragging that “What is good for General Motors is good for the country”. It was the biggest corporation in America and had no foreign competition. Japanese cars were sort of unamerican. It didn’t matter to General Motors, at that time, that healthcare costs would be passed on to consumers. The idea that General Motors would one day face foreign competition or would find itself declaring bankruptcy was not on the radar screen or even a possiblity.

    Reality has changed for all American companies, foreign competition is a factor and employer health insurance does make them less competitive. Why it is that Americans think that employers are paying for their health insurance? It is slightly hidden of course. Americans pay for employer based insurance and those costs are substantial. Insurance premiums of $800/month with high deductibles are not uncommon. Insurance premiums of $10,000 to $16,000 per year are the norm and for a family with an average income of $50,000 those premiums represent 20% – 32% of their income. That is probably more than they pay in income taxes! Some economists estimate that HR676 would reduce those costs to 5%- 10%. It is absolutely mind boggling why Congress seeks to preserve the current for profit insurance company based system. Congress, the president, and media analysts are in a dither about costs. What is difficult to understand that in lieu of outrageous for profit insurance premiums we would pay a much more affordable health tax and everyone would be comprehensively covered.

    If we have trillions to waste on wall street and useless wars, we have money for cradle to grave healthcare. It’s a basic human right.