Family physician Rep. Ernie Fletcher, M.D., (R-Ky.) resigned from the House on Dec. 8 to be sworn in Dec. 9 as the first Republican governor of Kentucky in more than thirty years.
"My goal as I enter office is a new unity with efficiency in government, affordable healthcare, and better education," Fletcher said in his inauguration speech.
"For healthcare, we propose measures to increase access to services while reducing their cost, removing disincentives so we can keep more doctors in the state, modernizing Medicaid, and working to improve the health of our citizens before problems occur," he continued. "As a physician, I am especially dedicated to improvements in this area."
Fletcher, 51, earned his medical degree in 1984 from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. He practiced medicine for 12 years and served for two years as CEO of the Saint Joseph Medical Foundation, the now-defunct entity that governed the primary care practices previously owned by Saint Joseph HealthCare, Lexington, Ky.
Fletcher began his political career in 1995 as a state representative, where he served on the Kentucky Commission on Poverty and the Task Force on Higher Education. Elected to Congress in 1999, Fletcher was a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and chairman of the Policy Subcommittee on Health. His seat, representing the 6th district of Kentucky, is now vacant.
Affordable healthcare and prescription drugs, and Medicaid and malpractice reform topped Fletcher's healthcare agenda during his campaign for governor.
"As a doctor, I will tackle the healthcare problems facing Kentuckians with the same dedication that I have given my patients over the years," Fletcher says in a written summary of his healthcare plan. "The healthcare of Kentuckians is far too important for on-the-job training."