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February 20, 1998

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"The Patients' Bill of Rights is the next important step we must take toensure that every American family has the quality health care it needs to thrive. This isespecially important as our health care system changes to meet the needs of an emergingnew economy. I believe that we have an obligation to give Americans the tools to meetthese challenges -- and to make sure that whether they have traditional care or managedcare, all Americans have quality care."

President Bill Clinton

Today, the President releases an Executive Memorandum directing all Federal healthplans, which serve over 85 million Americans, to come into substantial compliance with thePresident's Quality Commission's Consumer Bill of Rights. The Executive Memorandum follows a report that the VicePresident forwarded to the President on the current status of compliance with the ConsumerBill of Rights. The President also reissues his challenge toCongress to pass legislation that assures that these patients' bill of rights willbecome the law of the land for all Americans.

Patients' Bill of Rights. The nation's health care system is undergoingsignificant change. Many Americans worry that these changes may reduce their health careoptions and lower the standards of care. A Patients' Bill of Rights should giveAmericans much needed protections, including:

Guaranteed Access To Needed Health Care Providers to ensure that patients areprovided appropriate high quality care;

Access to Emergency Services when and where the need arises;

Confidentiality of Medical Records to ensure that individually identifiablemedical information is not disseminated and to provide consumers the right to access andamend their own medical records;

Grievance and Appeals Processes for consumers to resolve their differences withtheir health plans and health care providers.

America's Federal Health Programs Are Leaders In Providing Patient Protections. Althoughciting some shortcomings, the Vice President's report on the compliance status ofFederal health programs with the Consumer Bill of Rights concludes that Federal healthplans (including Medicare, Medicaid, Indian Health Service, the Federal Employee HealthBenefits Program, the Department of Defense Military Health Program, and theVeteran's Health Program) are already largely in compliance. This finding illustratesthat implementing consumer protections to help Americans navigate through a changinghealth care system, can be and has been done without excessive costs or regulations.


Directing Federal Agencies To Accomplish Even More. Althoughthe Federal government is taking a leading role to assure consumer protections are inplace, the Vice President's report concluded it has the authority to do more. ThePresident is issuing an Executive Memorandum to ensure that Federal programs come intosubstantial compliance with the Consumer Bill of Rights by no later than next year.


Challenging Congress To Pass Federally-Enforceable Patient's Bill Of Rights ThisYear. The President renews his call to Congress to pass a patients bill of rights thisyear. The Vice President's report underscores that most consumer protections cannotbe assured to patients in private health plans without additional legislation. Withoutthis legislation, the millions of Americans in private health plans will never be assuredthese protections.

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