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November 20, 1997

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Consumer Bill of Rights

President Endorses Consumer Bill of Rights and Calls For Immediate Action

Whether it's traditional health care or managed care, we have to make sure it's not inferior care. There are basic standards that I believe every American should be able to count on wherever they live, whatever their needs. Those standards ought to be the right of every citizen.

President Clinton,
November 20, 1997

Today, the President endorsed the "consumer bill of rights and responsibilities" recommended by the Advisory Commission on Quality and Consumer Protections, a commission composed of members who represent the broad spectrum of views in the health care debate. President Clinton stressed that the Commission's recommendation's -- recommended overwhelmingly by 33 of the 34 Commission Members -- provide an excellent framework for long overdue national standards of consumer protection.

In his remarks, the President outlined the Consumer Bill of Rights and Responsibilities:

  • "You have the right to be informed about your health plan in plain English."
  • "You have the right to choose the right doctor for the right type of care;"
  • "the right to medical services in an emergency wherever and whenever the emergency arises;"
  • "the right to know all your medical options, no matter how much they cost;"
  • "the right to respectful care and equal treatment at every health care facility by every health care provider;"
  • "the right to know your medical records are confidential and only used for legitimate purposes;"
  • "the right to express your concerns about the quality of care you receive and to take action when that care is inadequate."
  • and a consumer has the responsibility "to take an active role in his or her own health care and to take responsibility for his or her own health."

In accepting the recommendations, the President did the following:
(1) Challenged All Private Health Plans, Providers, and Health Care Facilities to Adopt the Consumer Bill of Rights. To take immediate steps to assuring that all affected stakeholders adopt the Commission's recommendations, the President called on these parties to adopt the bill of rights. A voluntary call for compliance will not ensure that all Americans have access to these rights, but it represents an important first step. At the event today, the President announced that GTE -- represented by one of the commission members, GTE Executive Vice President for Human Resources Randy MacDonald -- is the first large company to guarantee the Consumer Bill of Rights to all the 400,000 participants in their employee and family health plan.

(2) Called on Congress to Pass Legislation Before it Adjourns Next Year. To make these rights real for all Americans, the President called on Congress to pass the appropriate Federal protections into law before the 105th Congress adjourns. Republicans and Democrats alike have supported legislation providing consumer protections, and the President is optimistic that Congress will enact a measure he can sign into law in 1998. As the Vice President said today, "I hope and expect that we can safeguard consumer rights on a bipartisan basis. Over 200 members of Congress --including more than 80 Republicans --have endorsed bills that address many of the issues in the Bill of Rights, because this is so clearly in the people's interest."

(3) Directed All Federal Agencies to Come into Compliance with the Bill of Rights. The President directed every federal agency that administers or manages health plans to adopt the protections of the consumer bill of rights and to advise where the agencies need additional legislative authority to do so.

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