Press Release
From the Office of State Senator Craig Estes, District 30

For Immediate Release
February 24, 2003
Contact: Lewis Simmons
Phone: (512) 463-0130

Estes Joins Effort to Help Small Businesses
Afford Health Insurance for Employees

AUSTIN - State Senator Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, has joined Senator Kip Averitt, R-McGregor, in filing legislation that would create a new option for small businesses seeking affordable health insurance for their employees.

Senate Bill 10 would allow small businesses to join together when negotiating health insurance contracts. By acting as a single entity, small businesses would benefit from the savings enjoyed by larger employers.

"Many small businesses cannot offer their employees health insurance plans because it costs too much," Estes said. "This legislation seeks to utilize economies of scale in an effort to make health insurance more flexible, more affordable, and more accessible to more hard-working Texans."

The cost of group health insurance is directly related to the number of people covered by the policy. This legislation would allow small businesses to form groups for the purpose of obtaining group employee health insurance for lower premiums, Estes explained.

A staggering 68 percent of uninsured Texans -- more than 2 million workers -- are actively employed, but do not have access to affordable health insurance benefits, Estes said.

"Senate Bill 10 offers a common sense solution to this cumbersome problem suffered by many small businesses and their employees," Estes said.

To help promote participation, the legislation would not require small businesses to offer all coverage now mandated by the state. By removing these mandates, insurance companies could offer a minimum coverage package at a minimum price, thus eliminating unwanted coverage which leads to increased premiums.

To promote participation by insurance providers, a 2 percent tax credit for all previously uninsured persons would be offered through the second year of coverage.

Senate Bill 10 is supported by Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Texas Association of Business, National Federation of Independent Business, Texas Association of Health Plans, Texas Association of Health and Life Underwriters, and Texas Hospital Association.

The companion bill, House Bill 1086, is being carried in the Texas House of Representatives by Rep. John Smithee, R-Amarillo, chairman of the House Insurance Committee.

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