A Solution to Our Health Care Crisis

Two years ago, San Francisco launched the country's first universal health care program, Healthy San Francisco. This program is saving lives, reducing costs and creating competition.
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Politicians and pundits on both sides of the aisle are trying to make national health care reform into a game. One senator even said that defeating health care reform is about "breaking" President Obama.

It is not about "breaking" our president. Reforming our national health care system is about fixing our economy by creating competition to lower health care costs and improve care.

Health care reform is about the estimated 47 million Americans that do not have health insurance. Nearly five million people have lost their insurance since September 2008. 14,000 more are losing coverage every day -- and the situation is only getting worse.

This is not a game. This is a crisis. And as the recession continues, it is a crisis with profound implications for every city and county in America.

Earlier this week, Governor Schwarzenegger balanced the California state budget on the backs of local governments, taking $4 billion from cities and counties, slashing $1.3 billion from the state's health care program for the poor and gutting millions more from the Healthy Families insurance program that provides coverage for children.

What is happening in California is not unique to our state. Mayors and city councils across the country are facing similar problems as state governments slash health coverage to balance their books.

Our emergency rooms will bear the brunt of these cuts, as patients will flood our hospitals when they can no longer see a doctor. Our residents will pay the price with higher taxes, more expensive premiums, hidden costs and increased fees. Our cities and towns will all have to pick up the tab.

This is a crisis. And our cities and towns are on the front lines.

That's why this afternoon I'm hosting a call with mayors from around the country asking them to introduce resolutions in their city councils to support the Administration's health care reform principles. Health care reform cannot wait.

In San Francisco, we decided to treat this crisis. Two years ago, we launched the country's first universal health care program, Healthy San Francisco. Today, almost 75% of previously uninsured residents are enrolled in our "public option" program. 44,249 people, at last count are now covered by our public plan.

Healthy San Francisco is saving lives, reducing costs and creating competition. Check out this first hand account of our public program at work. Watch this moving video of a woman who was unable to get coverage before she found out about Healthy San Francisco.

A public plan can work. San Francisco is proving it. We should not be scared by TV ads funded by insurance companies and brash statements from politicians. This is about the health of our country. This is a crisis, but there is a solution.

We do not have time to stand on the side lines. We can -- and must -- act now. Call your representative. Email them. Sign our petition and show your support for President Obama's plan to reform our national health care system. Tell them this is not a game. This is about our families, our friends and our neighbors.

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