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Panel to draft health care bill of rights

President Clinton on Wednesday appointed a 34-member advisory panel to draft a bill of rights for health care consumers and to assess the need for the government to regulate private health insurance plans.

The Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry is headed by Donna Shalala, the secretary of health and human services, and Cynthia Metzler, acting secretary of labor. It will investigate the practices of health maintenance organizations and other forms of managed care, which provide coverage for more than 150-million Americans.

The panel will seek a middle ground between HMOs, which oppose federal regulation, and consumer advocates and doctors, who say it is essential.

Members include doctors, labor union leaders, HMO and hospital executives, a consumer advocate and a state insurance commissioner.

The commission will issue a preliminary report at the end of this year.

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