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AMERICAN AUTOMOBILE MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION COMMENTS ON NATIONAL HEALTH CARE SYSTEM

 WASHINGTON, March 2 /PRNewswire/ -- A spokesman for the American Automobile Manufacturers Association (AAMA) today said that administration strategies to develop a national health care system should not only assure access for all Americans and control costs but be financed in a way that considers the global competitiveness of American industries.
 "The unrelenting increase in U.S. health costs brought about by our health policy void, coupled with the realities of the new global economy, has made it vividly clear our country can no longer afford to finance health care in the haphazard way it does today," said Walter B. Maher, director of Federal Relations for Chrysler Corporation, on behalf of AAMA.
 "In developing a coherent national health policy," Maher said, "we must recognize that our country's health policy must be consistent with our country's economic policy and both must be consistent with our expectations for Americans' standard of living."
 Maher's comments came in testimony at a Senate committee hearing today co-chaired by Sens. Howard M. Metzenbaum (D-Ohio), chairman, Subcommittee on Labor and Donald W. Riegle (D-Mich.), chairman, Subcommittee on Health For Families and the Uninsured.
 AAMA member companies -- Chrysler Corporation, Ford Motor Company and General Motors Corporation -- provide health benefits to about 650,000 employees, 600,000 retirees and 1.5 million employee and retiree dependents, Maher noted.
 "But the rising costs of health care, coupled with the realities of a global economy, are serving to seriously threaten the economic security of American workers and retirees, and the competitive strength of American employers," he said.
 "If we elect to pursue reform by building on the current public/private system, which relies significantly on financing from employers, we risk jeopardizing mature businesses with older workers and many retirees unless we take the steps necessary to avoid this result," he said.
 "It is our hope that as the president's Health Care Task Force develops its proposal for a reformed health system to serve our country in the 21st century, it will focus specifically on the need to assure all Americans have access to affordable health care, to assure health costs are truly controlled, and to assure the health system is financed in a way which does not hinder the competitiveness of mature American industries facing global competition," Maher said.
 Maher said the huge gap between what the U.S. spends for health care compared with other nations causes this country to spend 45 percent more, per capita, than the second most expensive country, Canada. "More troubling to our industry is the fact that we spend 73 percent more than Germany and 119 percent more than Japan," he said.
 The competitive health care costs disadvantage is maintained when foreign firms locate operations in the United States, he noted. "In our industry the Japanese transplants employ much younger work forces and have very few retirees. Given the way we pay for health care in this country, that translates into a real cost advantage, an advantage in no way associated with better products or production techniques.
 Maher cited a University of Michigan study, which showed the U.S. health care cost disadvantage was over $500 per car vs. the Japanese and over $600 per car vs. foreign-based transplant auto makers in the United States.
 AAMA is the national trade association representing domestic auto and light-duty truck manufacturers. Its three member companies produce 81 percent of all U.S.-built cars.
 -0- 3/2/93
 /CONTACT: Gene McKinney or Ed Lewis of the American Automobile Manufacturers Association, 202-775-2716/


CO: American Automobile Manufacturers Association ST: District of Columbia IN: AUT HEA SU: EXE

IH-TW -- DC016 -- 1888 03/02/93 10:56 EST
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Date:Mar 2, 1993
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