Health Secretary Vickie Yates Brown Glisson resigns to run for Congressional seat held by Louisville Democrat John Yarmuth

Glisson signed candidacy papers. (Kentucky Today photo by Tom Latek)
FRANKFORT, Ky. -- State Health Secretary Vickie Yates Brown Glisson filed to run against Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth in Louisville's 3rd Congressional District just hours before the Jan. 30 filing deadline.

Glisson's entry "could set up an intense debate over health care," the Louisville Courier Journal notes, since she has overseen changes recently approved for the state's Medicaid program, which was expanded under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Yarmuth voted for the law and has been a vocal opponent of the Medicaid changes, which among other things will require "able-bodied" Kentuckians to work or volunteer in order to get their healthcare -- the first time such requirements have been approved by federal officials.

Glisson, a Louisville Republican, ran the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and was responsible for more than 7,000 employees and an annual budget of more than $12 billion. She told reporters that she had been thinking about the race  "for some time," and that Gov. Matt Bevin was supportive of her decision, Phillip M. Bailey and Morgan Watkins report for the Courier Journal.

"I want Louisville to succeed," Glisson said. " I want Louisville to become a city that is strong and robust and a city where our citizens can succeed, so that's why I'm running. . . . I think I can be a strong voice for Louisville."

Bevin named Scott Brinkman, secretary of the Executive Cabinet, acting secretary to fill Glisson's vacancy temporarily.

Glisson has two opponents in the May 22 Republican primary, Louisville residents Mike Craven and Rhonda Palazzo. Yarmuth is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

Yarmuth is a six-term congressman who has faced little resistance in previous elections. He has held the seat since upsetting Republican incumbent Anne Northup in 2006 and is the only Democrat in Kentucky's congressional delegation.

"As the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, Congressman Yarmuth is focused on combating attacks by Washington Republicans on the priorities of Louisville families, but he looks forward to debating whichever candidate emerges from the party of Trump primary later this year," Heather Dearing, a Yarmuth campaign spokeswoman, told the Courier Journal.

Prior to becoming health secretary, Glisson was an attorney with the Louisville law firm Frost Brown Todd. She has also served as president of Nucleus, an economic development arm of the University of Louisville. She also was listed as a special assistant to former U of L President James Ramsey, advising in the areas of health, life science and research.

UPDATE, Feb. 22: Before filing for Congress, Glisson negotiated a return to U of L with Dean Craig Blakely of the School of Public Health and Information Sciences, but Provost Dale Billingsley rejected the $200,000 annual appointment, "citing her lack of teaching and research experience and the university’s current budget crunch," Joe Sonka reports for Insider Louisville. "This move comes one day after every Democrat in the state House signed a letter to U of L interim President Greg Postel asking him to reconsider the proposed hiring of Glisson, citing the 'lack of transparency and curious circumstances” of her hiring and her “excessively high salary.'" Rep. Jim Wayne of Louisivlle told Sonka that J. David Grissom, chair of the Board of Trustees, "had encouraged him to find as many signatures as he could for the letter and told him that his main objective is to get the university’s finances back in order."

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