The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), Arlington, VA has voiced its support of the "Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2005."

The House bill, sponsored by Representatives Sam Johnson (R-TX), John Boehner (R-OH), Nydia Velazquez
(D-NY), and Albert Wynn (D-MD), was introduced at the beginning of February; the Senate version was introduced the week of February 14.

“[This legislation] will help address the skyrocketing health care costs that our small, community-based contractor members are experiencing across the country," says Paul T. Stalknecht, ACCA president and CEO. "We urge House and Senate members to work together and pass these bills to make a real difference to the small business owners and their employees, families, and communities who make America great."

The Senate version of the bill is sponsored by Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Christopher Bond (R-MO), Robert Byrd (D-WV), Norm Coleman (R-MN), Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Mel Martinez (R-FL), John McCain (R-AZ), Jim Talent (R-MO), and David Vitter (R-LA).

ACCA’s support of the Small Business Health Fairness Act comes just after the association released the results of a survey on health benefit costs.

The survey of more than 200 contracting businesses updates a previous analysis, which was released in 2002. The new survey found that health insurance costs have continued to rise dramatically for HVACR contractors over the past two years, leading many to lower the benefits they offer to their employees. Among the findings:

  • 79% of respondents received increases of more than 10% in 2003 (with 26% posting premium increases of more than 20%)
  • In 2004, 69% of participants saw their premiums increase more than 10%, and 22% saw increases of more than 20%.
  • 50% of participants reduced available health benefits to employees in 2003, and 56% reduced them in 2004.
  • Health insurance costs account for 5.2%, on average, of the respondents' total expense outlays.

For more information, visit www.acca.org.