Automakers To Meet With Bush on Health Care Costs
The CEOs of the Big Three U.S. automakers on Tuesday plan to meet with President Bush to seek help on health care costs and trade issues, which have contributed to recent losses reported by the companies, the AP/Washington Times reports.
In the last fiscal quarter, Ford reported a loss of $5.8 billion; General Motors reported a loss of $91 million, compared with $1.6 billion a year earlier; and Chrysler Group reported a loss of $1.5 billion (AP/Washington Times, 11/14).
At the meeting, previously scheduled for May, GM Chair and CEO Rick Wagoner, Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Chrysler President and CEO Tom LaSorda likely will ask the Bush administration and Congress to take action to address health care costs, rather than seek a bailout (Silke Carty, USA Today, 11/14). The group seeks support for employee health care expenses, which add about $1,000 to the cost of each car manufactured by the companies, and trade issues (AP/Washington Times, 11/14).
David Cole, chair of the Center for Automotive Research said that the Big Three CEOs likely will seek an expansion of Medicare to cover more prescription drug costs (USA Today, 11/14).
Last summer, Wagoner asked Congress to provide a "vigorous and robust" prescription drug market, develop a national health care information technology system and address catastrophic health care costs.
GM spokesperson Greg Martin said, "We're not going into this meeting seeking specific relief for our industry," adding, "We understand that we have to win in the marketplace, but there are issues of national importance like health care and trade that affect the competitive balance" (AP/Washington Times, 11/14).