Magazine article Workforce Management

Executives Call for Leadership on Health Care

Magazine article Workforce Management

Executives Call for Leadership on Health Care

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON'S ROLE

When he announced a tentative deal with the United Auto Workers in October to reduce his company's health costs by $3 billion, General Motors chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner called for more leadership from Washington on health care issues.

But GM and most other large corporations do not offer policy prescriptions for lowering health bills. They lay out themes -and leave the details to politicians.

"We believe that the federal government has a primary role to play in increasing health care quality and making the health care system more affordable and accountable, says Chris Preuss, GM's Washington spokesman. "We need to see a more purposeful, bipartisan discussion on how we as a nation are going to tackle this issue.

Corporate leaders certainly highlight the bottom-line impact of health care. For two years in a row, the 160 CEOs who constitute the Business Roundtable have cited health care as the No. 1 factor hindering company growth.

When they come to Washington, executives tend to focus on incremental steps in health care reform rather than sweeping changes. In a seminar at the Brookings Institution last month, Eli Lilly CEO Sidney Taurel touted products designed to empower consumers, such as health savings accounts. He also recommended curbs on medical malpractice lawsuits and advocated improving health care information technology.

In an interview following the event, he said the complexity of health care has kept the issue out of the spotlight. "It's not been very high in the list of national priorities," he said. …

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