Connecticut’s craft beer industry employs hundreds of full-time workers, and to help keep that number growing — without spending a dime — state lawmakers should pass legislation that will give more craft brewery employees access to the affordable health care coverage they deserve.

The Healthier Craft Brewery Employee Bill (House Bill 7260) would allow for the Connecticut Brewers Guild to create its own pool of members to purchase plans with significant savings when compared to current health insurance rates.

Since most of Connecticut’s breweries employ under five employees, the plan could offer one fewer thing for established and would-be entrepreneurs to worry about.

Now more than ever, health care costs are especially burdensome on small business owners and entrepreneurs as prices continue to skyrocket.

Many small businesses are unable to afford to provide their employees with health insurance. The number of small businesses nationwide with fewer than 25 employees offering health insurance for their employees has dropped in recent years.

Passing the Healthier Craft Brewery Employee Bill is a no-brainer. Not only does it allow the Connecticut Brewers Guild to provide an additional benefit to our members, but it also represents a way to care for the hardworking folks who work behind the bar and among stainless steel tanks.

The plan also allows Connecticut’s craft breweries to band together to purchase the types of coverage that are available to large employers, which can be less expensive and better tailored to the needs of their employees.

We’re trying to offer a healthy alternative for hundreds of brewery employees who might otherwise be priced out of the individual market place altogether and, therefore, forfeit the chance to have the high-quality and affordable health insurance coverage they deserve.

Connecticut’s independent, local craft breweries operate over 85 taprooms — and produce over 166,000 barrels of beer annually — and those numbers continue growing every week.

When it comes to all of our state’s breweries — including the 64 that are operational or in planning and members of the Connecticut Brewers Guild — we want brewers to be brewing, not worrying about another cost that goes into running a business.

We have such a vastly growing industry that continues to boom. If both state legislative chambers pass the Healthier Craft Brewery Employee bill, and the governor signs it into law,  we can make sure our state’s craft beer boom is not short-lived, but instead, that it’s never ending.

Every job that a growing industry like craft beer creates is another opportunity for our state to get ahead. Because when local craft breweries succeed, it’s not just our state’s economy that gets stronger; it’s our families and our communities.

I hope that others join us in advocating for passage of the Healthier Craft Brewery Employee Bill and show their support by signing our petition (click here).

Phil Pappas is the executive director of the Connecticut Brewers Guild. Learn more at www.connecticut.beer.

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