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Kucinich: the High Cost of Health Care is Driving Our Manufacturing Companies into the Ground

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"Today, the Ford Motor Company reported a $12.7 billion deficit for 2006 ï " the largest in its 103-year history. Ford Motor Company s Web site decries the $3.1 billion annual cost of health care for its employees.

"The American automotive industry has been buffeted by adverse trade policies. This, together with the high cost of health care is undermining the U.S. manufacturing base, Kucinich said.

The trend of posting record deficits is becoming more and more common. In 2005, General Motors announced a plan to cut $3 billion a year from its spending on health benefits for retirees. This problem is not limited to the automotive industry. Many businesses are complaining that they are being crushed by health care costs.

"The Conyers/Kucinich national health care plan, HR 676, represents a powerful solution for America s employers and employees alike. It recognizes that annual health care spending in the United States exceeds $2 trillion. If this money went to health care, we would have enough to cover all the health care needs of the American people.

"There is a reason that the CEOs of Canada s Ford, GM, and Daimler Chrysler publicly expressed their support for Canada s national health insurance plan.

"They have said ˜Publicly funded health care thus accounts for a significant portion of Canada s overall labour cost advantage in auto assembly, versus the U.S., which in turn has been a significant factor in maintaining and attracting new auto investment to Canada.

Kucinich said, "Providing affordable, quality health care has become a great financial burden for American businesses. Companies are forced to pump more money into providing health care for their employees instead of investing funds into new product development or other business investments.

"It s time for America to join with the rest of the industrial democracies of the world in providing health care for its people. HR 676, the United States National Health Insurance Act, was introduced in the House of Representatives yesterday with 45 cosponsors.

"Health care reforms are necessary not only for the automotive industry, but for all American businesses. If American businesses are to be competitive globally, we have to get them out from under the crushing weight of health care costs that are growing unchecked. Comprehensive health care for all is the number one domestic priority and needs to be put at the top of Congress agenda.
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Dennis Kucinich is former US Congressman and two-time presidential candidate from Ohio who served 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Visit his website at  KucinichAction

Follow him on Twitter at @Dennis_Kucinich
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