There are about 45 million Americans without health insurance. And with the economy shedding jobs by the thousands every day, that number is growing.

Rep. John Dingell, a Democrat whose district includes Ann Arbor, wants to change that and will make his case in a speech about national health care reform at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health Monday.

Dingell will discuss possible health care reform legislation, including H.R. 15, the “National Health Insurance Act” he introduced to provide health insurance to the entire country. His talk will also include a discussion of the effect health care has on the country’s economy.

“This country is going broke on health insurance,” Dingell said in an interview with The Michigan Daily. “We have the best health technology and health science and worst and most inadequate methods of paying for that health care.”

The fact that the United States doesn’t cover its citizens, Dingell said, has weakened the economy.

Dingell said he will compare the current U.S. program to health care programs in foreign countries. He said he specifically plans to discuss how Japan, an industrialized nation with a prominent auto industry like the United States’, provides health coverage for all of its citizens.

Because Japanese automakers don’t have to subsidize health insurance for their employees, they can keep their production costs down. But U.S. automakers have to charge more per car to cover the cost of providing health care to their employees.

With a national health care program, Dingell said the “competitive hazards would be at an end” for U.S. automakers.

Adam Benson, Dingell’s spokesman, said Dingell is pushing for a national coverage program because he believes health care “should be a right, not a privilege.”

“Quality of health care should not be determined by (income), but what our society is able to provide our doctors or medical establishments.” Benson said. “Unfortunately, many people are not able to get (quality health care), and the Congressman thinks that could be changed and improved on with a national health care plan.”

Dingell will be accompanied by Chris Jennings, health care adviser to former President Bill Clinton.

“(Jennings) will be explaining the history of this matter and also addressing the technical matters,” Dingell said.

Dingell said the event is “geared to anyone who wants to come and listen to see one of the things I do and to keep everyone informed with the major issues in Washington.”

He hopes to answer as many questions as he can during the event, which will start at 1 p.m. on Monday in the School of Public Health auditorium at the University of Michigan.

Nathaniel Eli Coats Styer, chair of the University’s chapter of College Democrats, said Dingell’s talk is coming at an important time. With the economy struggling, particularly in Michigan, Styer said a national health care program is a necessity.

Styer said the event would be a special opportunity for students given Dingell’s record as the longest-serving United States Representative, having served more than 19,420 days. Dingell just broke the previous record Wednesday.

“We are excited every time Dingell comes to campus,” Styer said. “He is very enthusiastic and a close friend of ours.”

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