This month, MSJAMA considers the meaning of a "patients' bill of rights" from several viewpoints. Throughout the history of this country, physician-legislators have been active in securing rights in health care. This unique US claim to rights appears rooted in a culture of independence. In 1998, when the President of the United States issued an executive order defining a set of standards for treating individuals in federal health plans, he incited the political system to address the revolutionary changes in the health care delivery system. The resultant congressional efforts, however, became more of an attempt to secure consumer rights than patient rights. Furthermore, these political discussions focused on increased regulations to protect those with insurance and made little mention of how to solve the problem of the uninsured.