Recently, during National Small Business Week, Pennsylvania officials gave speeches and bestowed accolades on deserving small businesses. But their lack of action spoke louder than their carefully crafted words.

Skyrocketing health-insurance costs are small businesses' No. 1 concern, but the General Assembly has failed to pass legislation setting up the state health insurance exchange - a marketplace that will allow small businesses to pool their buying power and purchase health insurance at lower rates.

The new federal health-care reform legislation requires that states create exchanges by 2014. If Pennsylvania fails to establish one by then, the federal government will create one for us. If that happens, small business owners won't get to provide input to craft a marketplace that works best for Pennsylvania small-business owners and their employees.

Our elected officials need to create policies to lower our health-care costs so we can hire new employees and help grow Pennsylvania's economy. What is needed is timely action and strong exchange legislation.

Ken Weinstein

Trolley Car Diner, Trolley Car Cafe

Philadelphia