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President's Advisory Commission Releases
Consumer Bill of Rights and Responsibilities
November 20, 1997
Chip Malin or Richard Sorian
A Presidential Advisory Commission today released a proposed Consumer Bill of Rights and Responsibilities in health care. In a report to President Clinton, the Commission said, "American consumers and their families are experiencing an historic transition of the U.S. system of health care financing and delivery."
The Commission states that a Consumer Bill of Rights and Responsibilities "can help to establish a stronger relationship of trust among consumers, health care professionals, health care institutions, and health plans by helping to sort out the responsibilities of each of these participants in a system that promotes quality improvement."
The Consumer Bill of Rights has three goals:
- To strengthen consumer confidence by assuring the health care system is fair and responsive to consumers' needs, provides consumers with credible and effective mechanisms to address their concerns, and encourages consumers to take an active role in improving and assuring their health.
- To reaffirm the importance of a strong relationship between patients and their health care professionals.
- To reaffirm the critical role consumers play in safeguarding their own health by establishing both rights and responsibilities for all participants in improving health status.
President Clinton created the Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry on March 26, 1997, and charged it with "recommend[ing] such measures as may be necessary to promote and assure health care quality and value and protect consumers and workers in the health care system." As part of that charge, the President asked the Commission to develop a "Consumer Bill of Rights" in health care.
Co-Chaired by Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman and Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna E. Shalala, the Commission has 34 members, including broad-based representation from consumers, businesses, labor, health care providers, health plans, and health care quality and financing experts. Commission members have vast expertise on a wide range of health issues, including the special challenges facing rural and urban communities, children, women, older Americans, minorities, and people living with mental and physical disabilities.
In developing the Consumer Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, the Commission established a Subcommittee on Consumer Rights, Protections, and Responsibilities, which held a series of six public hearings in Washington, D.C., Burlington, Vermont, and Chicago, Illinois. The Subcommittee and the Commission heard public testimony from nearly three dozen expert witnesses and considered consumer protection proposals by nearly two dozen national and regional organizations.
The Commission also is working on a final, comprehensive report on creating a quality improvement framework for the health care industry. That report is due to President Clinton by March 30, 1998.
Free copies of the Consumer Bill of Rights and Responsibilities are available on the World Wide Web from the Commission's Website (www.hcqualitycommission.gov).