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As Congress works to adopt national health care reform, President Obama is traveling the country holding town halls stressing the importance of a public health insurance option.

The President has been telling Americans that a public plan will create competition, lower the cost of private insurance, and improve care. The data just in from San Francisco’s pioneering universal health care program is proving that he’s right.

Healthy San Francisco is demonstrating what most people already know: that it’s less expensive to keep people well, than it is to treat their sickness.

Two years, after we launched the country’s first universal health care program, more than 70% of previously uninsured San Franciscans are now enrolled in our "public option" program.

Healthy San Francisco provides quality health care at a much lower cost than similar private health care options and it is available to all residents, regardless of pre-existing conditions. A recent study shows that the average cost of Healthy San Francisco is $280 per person, per month. This is significantly less expensive than comparable private health insurance, where a similar plan in California is $388 per month.

As the Chair of U.S. Conference of Mayors Health Care Reform Task Force, I am working to make the case for the President’s plan to reform our national health care system. But, if we are going to defeat the special interests and make sure Congress includes the necessary public option as part of health care reform, we all have to act forcefully.

The majority of Americans understand that we cannot afford the status quo. Our emergency rooms are at a capacity, more Americans are losing coverage every day and premiums continue to rise.

We now have data to draw on – the San Francisco experience of lowering costs and improving care by providing a public option for health care.

A public option must be part of the health care reform bill. The health of our nation and our future economic prosperity depends upon it. We must not accept anything less from our elected representatives.

Please take action. Call your representative. Email them. Sign our petition and show your support for President Obama’s plan to reform our national health care system. We can reform our health care system, but we have to fight for it.

Originally posted to Gavin Newsom on Thu Jul 09, 2009 at 05:11 AM PDT.

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