During Rod Blagojevich’s sentencing hearing, we’ve heard a lot about the former governor’s political legacy.
“On the heels of one corrupt governor and after running on a campaign to end ‘pay-to-play,’ Blagojevich took office and immediately began plotting with others to use the office of the governor for his personal gain through fraud, bribery and extortion,” U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s office wrote in a filing to Judge James Zagel.
Crook. Fraud. Schemer. Corrupt.
But there’s one legacy we’re not going to hear about, unless Blagojevich himself brings it up in his sentencing hearing. The United Health Foundation ranked Illinois the 28th healthiest state. We earned very low rankings in the categories of binge drinking, preventable hospitalizations, infectious diseases and violent crime. But there was one measure of public health in which we ranked 8th: early prenatal care.
Why do we rank so highly? Because of the AllKids Health Care Plan, the signature achievement of Blagojevich’s administration. AllKids includes a “Moms & Babies” program, “which pays for both outpatient and inpatient hospital services for women while they are pregnant, and for 60 days after the baby is born. It also pays for services to babies for the first year of the baby's life, if the mother is covered by Moms & Babies when the baby is born.”
Moms & Babies pays for “prenatal checkups, doctor visits, lab tests, prenatal vitamins, medicine, specialty medical care, eye care, dental care, emergency room care, mental health and substance abuse services, transportation to get medical care and other services,” according to the All Kids website. “You can also get hospital services, including labor and delivery. Your baby can get checkups, well-baby care, shots and many other services.
Blagojevich also signed a bill requiring HIV testing of expectant mothers.
In 2006, the year AllKids went into effect, Illinois showed more improvement in overall health than any other state, according to America’s Health Rankings: A Call To Action for People &Their Communities.
Sure, Rod Blagojevich is a vain, foppish, foul-mouthed blowhard. But he’s a vain, foppish foul-mouthed blowhard who made life better for poor people. Give the man that.
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