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Memorandum on the Health Care "Consumer Bill of Rights and Responsibilities"

November 20, 1997

Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget

Subject: The Health Care Consumer Bill of Rights and Responsibilities

Last spring, when I appointed the members of the Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry, I specifically charged them to develop a consumer bill of rights. This period of rapid change and experimentation in the way Americans receive and pay for their medical care holds the promise for improved quality, greater choice, and lower expense. At the same time, we must identify and protect certain fundamental rights of patients and their families so that, whatever health care delivery system they choose, they can obtain the information and care they need when necessary.

Health care consumers also need to understand their responsibilities in a changing health care environment to ensure that they get the best possible care. Confirming such rights and responsibilities is critical to ensuring that the quality of medical care does not suffer as we seek to expand access and improve efficiency of delivery.

The Consumer Bill of Rights and Responsibilities in Health Care, issued today by the Commission, fully lives up to my high expectations. The members of the Commission have brought to bear their own considerable abilities and have obtained information from a wide range of sources. This Bill of Rights and Responsibilities is a comprehensive and thoughtful document that will be an excellent guide as we move through this transition in health care delivery. We must take steps to see that the rights contained in this document become a reality for all Americans.

Therefore, I hereby direct you to take the following actions consistent with the mission of your agency.

First, I direct you to determine the extent of your current compliance with the recommendations of the Commission.

Second, I direct you to use your administrative authorities, including existing regulations, advisories, and other guidance regarding health plans under their respective jurisdictions to initiate appropriate administrative actions consistent with the recommendations of the Commission.

Third, I direct you to identify the statutory impediments to compliance with the recommendations of the Commission.

Finally, I direct you to report back to me, through the Vice President, by February 19, 1998, with your findings and the administrative actions you have already undertaken and will undertake to effect the Commission's recommendations.


William J. Clinton, Memorandum on the Health Care "Consumer Bill of Rights and Responsibilities" Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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