Harkin (Hearts) Dean
When I saw the boomlet for Howard Dean as HHS Secretary, I didn't think it was plausible. I certainly didn't think a high-profile Senator would come out and back him.
Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, who endorsed Dean's presidential campaign in 2004 and is rumored to be in the HHS running himself, applauded the idea of the former DNC header taking over the cabinet post vacated by Tom Daschle.
"I think that would be a very good move," Harkin told the Huffington Post. "He brings all the background and experience. He's very strong on prevention and wellness, which I'm very strong on. I think he'd make an outstanding secretary of HHS."
Asked if he had spoken to White House on the matter, Harkin demurred: "I'm not going to get into that," he said after a pause.
The thousands on Facebook, I expected, but not this. Color me surprised, and good for Tom Harkin.
By the way, here's a short list of Vermont's health care picture after Dean's leadership. As a small state Vermont has different issues than the rest of the country, but this is an indication of what Dean has done and can do.
Under Governor Dean's leadership, Vermont developed one of the best health care systems in the country.
• 96% of Vermont children have health insurance and 99% are eligible for coverage under Governor Dean's Dr. Dynasaur program.
• More than a third of Medicare recipients in Vermont receive state help in paying for prescription drugs.
• Vermont was ranked the "Healthiest State" in the U.S. in 2001, 2002 and 2003 by the Morgan Quinto Press.
• In 1997, Governor Dean signed a law requiring insurance companies in Vermont to provide the same coverage for mental illness and substance-abuse treatment that they provide for physical conditions.
• As a result of early intervention programs established by Governor Dean, 89% of pregnant Vermont women enter prenatal care in their first trimester and 91% of families with newborns receive a voluntary home visit.
• Vermont has the lowest teenage pregnancy rate in the country – teen pregnancies decreased 49% during Governor Dean's tenure.
• Child abuse dropped 45% under Governor Dean. Vermont was the first state to institute a statewide protocol for abuse investigations.
• Vermont ranks second in the nation in child immunizations -- 81% of children are fully immunized by age 2 and 97% are immunized before kindergarten.