At the invitation of Congressman Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati), James Eckstein of Delhi gave testimony before the House Small Business Committee on ways to increase access to affordable health insurance for small businesses and their employees. Mr. Eckstein is the President of C.A. Eckstein Roofing, Inc., a second-generation family-owned company, with a third generation actively involved in the day-to-day operations. C.A. Eckstein Roofing is based in Delhi and employs 35 people.
"We believe it is very important to provide our employees and their families with high quality health benefits, and in order to remain competitive in attracting and retaining quality employees," said Mr. Eckstein, who also serves as a vice president of the National Roofing Contractors Association, one of the nation's oldest trade associations. "However, providing coverage for our employees is becoming increasingly difficult each year, as we continue to be hit with double digit premium increases from our insurance company."
The cost of health insurance continued its 20-year reign as the number one issue worrying small business owners, according to the NFIB, formerly known as the National Federation of Independent Business. Roughly 63% of all uninsured workers are either self-employed or work for firms with fewer than 100 employees, estimates the Employee Benefit Research Institute. According to the National Small Business Association, in 2007, only 47% of businesses with fewer than 500 employees offered health insurance, down from 58% in 1997.
"Health insurance reform should make the market for health insurance more competitive, resulting in greater access to quality care," said Congressman Chabot, who serves as the Ranking Member of the House Small Business Committee. "Reform should balance the competing goals of access to quality care, affordability, predictability and consumer choice."
While in Congress, Chabot has supported Association Health Care Plans, which allow small businesses to band together across state lines and buy health insurance through trade associations to increase the risk pool. Chabot also introduced the Health Insurance Affordability Act, which would amend the Internal Revenue Code to provide individual taxpayers with a tax deduction for health insurance premiums.