DETROIT -- Washington should attack the "sacred cows" of the health care industry to rein in excessive growth in costs, the head of General Motors said Tuesday.
One area where government action could help slow health care costs is medical malpractice lawsuits, GM CEO Rick Wagoner told reporters following a speech.
"This thing has just gotten to be absurd. That's a huge cost driver," he said.
Wagoner also cited a lack of information about health care quality. A GM spokesman said Wagoner was referring to the paucity of information available to consumers about the quality of care available from doctors, hospitals and other providers.
"Maybe the trial lawyers or something would be angry if we did a better job at sharing quality data," Wagoner said. "But the price of doing that is you can't sue people for sharing quality data."
Washington needs to take action "to take on some of the sacred cows in health care," Wagoner said.
He said the automaker would aid in seeking bipartisan solutions.
Despite some relief from the $400 billion overhaul of the Medicare health system, passed last year by Congress, health care costs are expected to continue rising. GM spent $4.8 billion on health care last year, amounting to about $1,400 for every car sold, Wagoner said.
Although the United States pays the most in the world for health care, it also ranks among the worst industrialized countries in terms of the quality of care in several key areas, Wagoner said.
"What we need to do is do things that there will be a consensus behind," Wagoner said.
Both political parties understand that health care is a major issue. But there seems to be little consensus about what can be done in Washington and discussions are often polarized by debate over nationalized health care, he said.
While Wagoner called for bipartisan solutions, 68 percent of the funds that GM's political action committee has donated to federal candidates in the current election cycle were sent to Republicans, according to opensecrets.org, which tracks campaign contributions. The GM PAC has contributed $231,500 to Republicans and $107,070 to Democrats, according to opensecrets, which is part of the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
GM will make further political contributions this year that will change the gap between Republican and Democrat candidates, GM spokesman Chris Preuss said. Historically, the GM political action committee has targeted about 60 percent of its contributions to Republicans, Preuss said.