Internist has starring role at RNC

July 20, 2016

Alvarado, a 46-year-old internist and pediatrician, will not be discussing healthcare during remarks, and will instead focus on immigration issues. In 2014, Alvarado became the first Hispanic elected to state office in Kentucky, according to the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky.

During his day job, Ralph Alvarado, Jr., MD, deals with the same problems that all internists do: keeping patients healthy, meeting quality measures and wrestling with an electronic health record (EHR) system.

Tonight, he will deal with a different problem entirely: How to read from a teleprompter in front a massive arena crowd and a national television audience. Alvarado, a Republican state senator in Kentucky and a GOP delegate, has a 6-minute, prime-time speaking slot during the RNC convention Wednesday night (July 20).

 

Read more of our 2016 RNC coverage here

 

Alvarado, a 46-year-old internist and pediatrician, will not be discussing healthcare during remarks, and will instead focus on immigration issues. In 2014, Alvarado became the first Hispanic elected to state office in Kentucky, according to the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky.

“I’ve only got 6 minutes,” he told Medical Economics. “It’s probably going to be a little of my personal story. I’m an immigrant, and these are our values and how we reflect those values as Republicans. It’s about how the American dream is not being fulfilled.”

Alvarado says he wishes he had time to discuss healthcare, because he has plenty of thoughts on how he believes it has gone wrong for both physicians and patients. Once the owner of a small primary care practice in Winchester, Kentucky, Alvarado said he was forced to sell his practice in 2013 as reimbursements declined and government mandates made it more difficult for him to keep his practice, Winchester Medical Associates, financially secure.

Next: We just can't keep doing this

 

“It got to the point where either we were going to have to not pay ourselves, borrow money to keep afloat or have to let our staff go, and a lot of them had been very loyal,” he says. “We finally got to the point where we were working harder, we were seeing more patients, doing nursing home work on weekends, taking extra calls, doing hospital stuff just to keep the doors open. We finally said we just can’t keep doing it.”

Alvarado’s practice was being courted by KentuckyOne Medical Group, a 550-physician group. His practice made the decision to sell. And while is his created its own headaches-bureaucracy, EHR conversion issues and loss of independence-it has financially insulated the practice, allowing them to maintain salaries for the physicians and providing stability and career mobility for his employees. Alvarado now serves in a leadership capacity as a regional medical director, board member, and chairman of the finance committee for the group.

 

Related: Internist fed up with Trump organizes protest at RNC

 

Alvarado ran for state office three times before winning a state senate seat in 2014. He also served as a GOP delegate in 2012. The issue that got Alvarado first involved in politics was tort reform, and he believes defensive medicine is a main culprit of rising healthcare costs.

“Judgement of physicians is not valued in this country. We need to start valuing their judgement, and protecting them legally,” he says.