Senator-Elect Ralph Alvarado plans to focus on healthcare issues in first year

11/20/2014 07:00 PM

LEXINGTON — Dr. Ralph Alvarado will make history when he is officially sworn in as a Kentucky state Senator — the Winchester physician is the first Latino elected into Kentucky’s upper chamber — but Alvarado isn’t content to just make history on the first day.

Winning his seat by 2,000 votes in a contentious race against incumbent minority floor leader Sen. R.J. Palmer, D-Winchester, Alvarado served one of the biggest political upsets of the season.

However, Alvarado says it’s time for Democrats and Republicans to come together and work towards common goals in the General Assembly.

“Once you get into office, the way I see it is you put the D and the R aside, and ultimately it’s a team that everyone’s put together and when everyone in the district says ‘we want this team to go forward’ like any business you sit down and start looking toward what you have in common, and you start achieving those goals,” Alvarado said.

“I think if everyone’s swimming in the same direction you can advance the needs of Kentucky and of the district.”

Alvarado, a doctor with KentuckyOne Medical Group says he plans on focusing on healthcare issues as he enters the fray in Frankfort this January.

“I have a sense of urgency. I feel like you get in for four years, you know I have no guarantee beyond that and there is no reason to waste time if you don’t have to,” Alvarado said.

Some of the initiatives Alvarado says the state needs to tackle is paying for the Medicaid expansion and reducing costs in the healthcare system via medical tort reforms.

“If you want to reduce costs you’re going to have to find some way of implementing medical tort reform,” Alvarado said. “There are lots of ways of doing that — medical reviews panels, you can try the constitutional amendment that we tried years ago, and ultimately that was my impetus to get involved even in politics to begin with.”

“Until you can have doctors feel comfortable that they’re not going to get sued you’re not going to change the patterns of defensive medicine which is ramping up hundreds of billions of dollars in costs across the country and in the state as well.”

One health related issue that has been divisive in the General Assembly is a proposed statewide smoking ban — making smoking illegal in public places including bars and restaurants, workplaces and other public buildings.

The Republican led Senate has been divided over the health factors of second hand smoke and government overreach, but Alvarado says he is in favor of the ban as a physician and member of the Kentucky Medical Association.

“We do need some type of an effort to get people away from smoking tobacco and also from second hand exposure which is really the biggest concern,” Alvarado said.

“I do support that. We want to see folks if they can be healthier and so whatever we can do to incentivize that I think would be good. That will help lung cancer rates.”


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