The Senate has decided to debate so-called patients rights legislation after the Fourth of July recess. A four-day debate will begin Monday, July 12, with predetermined limits on how much time may be used to debate each amendment. The agreement almost guarantees that provisions opposed by small business will come up for a vote.

Small business owners regard the high cost of health insurance as the number one problem facing their business. Some of the legislation that will come up for debate in two in a little more than a week threatens to increase the cost of health care. One proposal, the Patients' Bill of Rights, introduced by Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and Sen. Tom Daschle (S.6) would increase liability for health plans and increase the costs of health care by adding mandates.

S. 6 is not The Patients Bill of Rights Act (S. 326), introduced by Sen. Jim Jeffords, R-Vt. Jeffords' bill would give patients the right to take grievances over coverage to an independent panel outside the insurance company. The bill mandates some health care coverage, but also limits the ability of a patient to sue.

Daschle's bill would introduce many more mandated health care coverage and give patients the right to sue their plans, expanding employer liability.

Small business owners support market-based health care reforms as part of NFIB's Small Business Growth Agenda for the 106th Congress, a list of the solutions to common problems preventing the health and growth of Main Street businesses.