Our Constitution protects every citizen against discrimination, the result of long and hard-won gains by ordinary people who for decades showed extraordinary courage fighting for change. Applying these fundamental gains to our health care system is the right thing to do, because my patients and my constituents cannot hold their breath any longer.
That's why I've introduced the No Discrimination in Health Insurance Act. This essential legislation will guarantee access to affordable care for every citizen in America by bringing an end to discriminatory practices employed by insurance companies who deny life-saving coverage to millions of Americans solely because of their pre-existing medical conditions.
The grim reality is our Constitution does protect you against discrimination, until you become ill. Well, my legislation puts discrimination where it belongs -- in the past.
Ending all forms of discrimination is essential, but it's also time we pull back the veil of secrecy and inject transparency into our health care marketplace. Shouldn't health insurance companies be made to openly disclose all their prices, so everyone sees the lowest price for insurance policies? Like prices for gas at the corner service station or food prices in your closest grocery store, every citizen should have the equal opportunity to pay the same price for the same product. It's called competition -- a uniquely American concept.
Go to your favorite restaurant and you'll find a simple solution for solving our health care crisis. They'll hand you a menu with a list of prices before you order.
As a physician for the past 30 years, and now as a Congressman, I understand how difficult it is for families to pay for their necessary treatments. People today all across America find themselves choosing between their next pill and their next meal.
But you don't have to be a doctor to know our health care system is broken, because ordinary working people cannot afford health insurance. Skyrocketing insurance rates and prescription drug costs have outpaced wages, hardworking middle-class families are getting squeezed, and fewer and fewer citizens can afford premiums that now average $14,000 a year for a family of four.
We need to do more -- now. The No Discrimination in Health Insurance Act makes it our top domestic priority to guarantee coverage from head to toe for every citizen. Because no one -- rich or poor, young or old, anywhere in these United States -- should be denied access to affordable care. And no business should face bankruptcy simply because it cares for its employees.
The reality is our nation's insurance industry has been successful beyond all measure by dividing and conquering almost all Americans. They've divided neighbor from neighbor, and even mother from child, by insuring individuals instead of entire communities. We can begin to heal our nation by putting unity back into community ratings.
My no discrimination act requires companies to openly disclose their prices, and to charge every citizen the same fee for the same service within the region, allowing all citizens to finally benefit by paying the lowest fees available.
Ending discrimination in health insurance is the right thing to do, and it will reduce costs for everyone's care. Simply put, if you're a citizen, you're in -- with no discrimination against you due to pre-existing medical conditions.
Join me in this national effort, for by working together, we will build a better nation and a brighter future for all of us.