WASHINGTON D.C. --- Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) recently introduced legislation that calls for the federal government to assume some of the domestic automakers' healthcare expenses for retirees, in exchange for accelerated production of fuel-efficient vehicles. The bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee. To be eligible for the program's reimbursement, a domestic automaker would have to provide full heathcare coverage to employees and ensure that at least 50 percent of its heathcare cost savings would be invested in fuel efficiency efforts, including research and development of alternative-fuel technology and assembly line modification. A task force, established by the secretaries of Energy, Health and Human Services, would administer the program. Both General Motors and Ford Motor Co. have cited rising pension and healthcare costs as major reasons for employee layoffs.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials