WASHINGTON (March 29, 2010) — The auto industry, which was largely noncommittal during the yearlong debate about changes to the national healthcare system, remains uncertain about the effects of the new healthcare legislation on the industry.
Representatives of General Motors Co., American Honda Motor Co. and the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) said they are reviewing the new healthcare bill signed into law by President Barack Obama to determine what it means to auto makers, suppliers and car dealers.
“Throughout ongoing policy talks, GM will continue to work constructively to ensure its long-standing priorities of improved healthcare quality and cost containment are included in the bill's implementation,” GM spokesman Greg Martin said after the initial healthcare bill passed the House.
Ed Tonkin, this year's chairman of NADA, said, “Nobody knows exactly what's in the bill that was voted on. I know it's going to be expensive.”
NADA has been monitoring the legislation through coalitions in which it is involved, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Tonkin said.
The healthcare law extends coverage to an additional 32 million people by 2019. It also seeks to contain spiraling healthcare costs and prohibit insurers from suddenly dropping coverage for people who become ill and denying coverage to children with medical problems.
The legislation would cost the government $938 billion over 10 years, but those costs would be more than offset by savings in Medicare and by new taxes and fees, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.
Small businesses with fewer than 25 employees would receive tax credits to help them buy insurance for their workers. Starting in 2014, large employers could face federal fines for failing to provide coverage.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents 11 domestic and foreign auto makers, hasn't been following the healthcare debate, a spokesman said.
This report appeared in Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.