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March 13, 1998

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Our nation has the best health care system in the world. We have the best doctors, the most advanced technology, and the most exciting research. But we can make the American health care system even better. And as we approach the 21st Century, with all its stunning medical advances, we must act now to spread these breakthroughs and improve the quality of health care for every American.

- President Bill Clinton
March 13, 1998

Today, President Clinton accepts the final report from his Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality. The report calls for a health quality council to develop unprecedented national quality improvement goals and a privately-administered forum to develop new tools to empower consumers and businesses to purchase quality health care.

Signing An Executive Memorandum. To implement the Commission's recommendations, the President issues an Executive Memorandum directing five Federal agencies to immediately establish an interagency task force to ensure the Federal government takes the lead on improving health care quality.

Directing Agencies To Coordinate And Improve Health Quality. The President is directing the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, Veterans Affairs, Defense, and the Office of Personnel Management to immediately establish the “Quality Interagency Coordination” (QuIC) task force. This task force will ensure better collaboration and coordination across the Federal government.

Improving Quality Health Care. Each year, hundreds of thousands of Americans are injured and even die from avoidable medical errors in the health care system. Millions more receive unnecessary services or substandard care that add needless health complications and increase health care costs. Establishing uniform standards will help ensure that health plans finally begin to compete on the basis of quality -- not just costs and benefits. The President's Commission's recommends:

  • Creating an Advisory Council for Health Care Quality, to establish, for the first time, national goals to improve health care quality and develop strategies to achieve them. The Council would emphasize areas such as ensuring consumers have access to clear information to make decisions about health plans and professionals, identifying strategies to reduce avoidable medical errors, reducing variation in health care services, and promoting evidence-based medicine.
  • Creating a Health Care Forum, to bring together the public and private sectors to identify a core set of measures to be adopted by health plans across the country. This would ensure that, for the first time, consumers have a consistent set of standards so they can choose health plans based on quality -- not just on cost.

Calling For A Patients' Bill Of Rights. President Clinton is urging Congress to step up their efforts to pass a Patients' Bill of Rights this year. With fewer than 70 working days remaining in this legislative session, the President is calling on Congress not to adjourn without passing a Patients' Bill of Rights that includes important protections for patients such as: access to the specialists they need, access to emergency room services, and an external appeals process to address grievances with their health plans.

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