G. Richard Wagoner, Jr., chairman and chief executive of General Motors, is urging business and federal and state government leaders to find what the Washington Post described as “some serious medicine” to treat the health-care crisis–fast. To procrastinate, he warned in a February 10 speech, puts “our children and grandchildren at risk and threatens the health and global competitiveness of our nation’s economy.”

There’s nothing new either about such warnings or about the self-defeating refusal of Corporate America to embrace, or even consider, taxpayer-supported universal health insurance, as Morton Mintz documented in a November 15, 2004 article in The Nation. (Click here to read the full text of the piece.) 

What was new was Wagoner’s announcement of support for the idea of a federally sponsored national insurance pool to cover over-the-top costs of medical catastrophes. Now he’s saying it. When John Kerry advocated just such a pool during the 2004 presidential campaign, Wagoner and his fellow corporate chieftains were silent.

Maybe GM’s plummeting sales and tens of billions of dollars worth of healthcare obligations for retirees–far more than competitors based in countries with national healthcare systems–are shaking up GM’s bosses. Any rational businessperson has to understand that our healthcare system is in desperate need of some “serious medicine.”