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Trump To Visit Kentucky, Where Election Stats Show He's Very Popular


President Trump heads to Kentucky for a rally today. The state supported him overwhelmingly in November, but Trump arrives at a moment when according to a new Gallup Poll, his approval rating is 37 percent, the lowest of his brief presidency. James Comer is a freshman Republican congressman who represents much of western Kentucky. And he is on the line with us. Congressman, good morning.

JAMES COMER: Good morning.

GREENE: So how do you handle it when an unpopular president from your own party is coming to town?

COMER: Well, he may be unpopular across America, but he is very popular in Kentucky. He won Kentucky by the biggest margin of any presidential candidate in history. In fact, he won my congressional district by over 50 points, so it's right opposite of what I'm seeing nationwide. As far as the polling goes, he's very popular in Kentucky. And I'm going to be very, very proud to stand beside him.

GREENE: Well, let me ask you about one specific issue here, and that's health care. I mean, haven't many of your constituents relied on one of these state health care exchanges that began under Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, which of course is the law that President Trump and your party are trying to blow up right now?

COMER: Yes, there've been a lot of people that - in my district - that got on expanded Medicaid. I don't know if this is factual or not, but Huffington Post said that my congressional district had the highest number of people that got on expanded Medicaid of any congressional district in America. The bottom line is, with respect to Obamacare, when people in Kentucky got on the exchange, 85 percent of them ended up on Medicaid.

So the problem now is the first three years, the federal government covered 100 percent of the expanded Medicaid population. Now the bill's coming due. And moving forward, Kentucky has to pay 10 percent of the premium for the expanded Medicaid population. And that number's going to continue to increase over the years, and it's not sustainable...

GREENE: But if...

COMER: ...For Kentucky. Kentucky has a third of its population on Medicaid.

GREENE: Well, Congressman, if I may, I mean, if that many people have benefited, though, from that expansion, are you willing to fight to make sure that nothing is rolled back in whatever Republican proposal might become law?

COMER: Well, some people benefited, and many didn't. The individual market has just collapsed in the state of Kentucky. Small businesses' premiums continue to skyrocket, going up 27 to 50 percent a year. So there is a segment of the population that's benefited. When you get on Medicaid, you essentially get free health care, but the other side of the coin is somebody's paying for that free health care. And in Kentucky, it's ended up being those in the individual market and the small businesses who have seen their premiums skyrocket. Another problem is there's only one carrier in most of the counties in my congressional district.

GREENE: I want to turn to one other question in the few seconds we have left. You said last month that President Trump should tread lightly when it comes to foreign leaders. I think about his fight with Mexico's president and Germany and Britain being offended by his White House last week. Is he treading lightly?

COMER: Well, that's a concern that I have because agriculture's huge in my district. Mexico is a tremendous trading partner for Kentucky agriculture, and American agriculture for that matter. And that's something that you don't hear a lot in the press. Mexico buys a lot of farm products from us. We export a lot of farm products to some of the countries that the president's been critical of, so that's a concern.

GREENE: Republican Congressman James Comer from Kentucky, thanks so much.

COMER: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF TOMMY EMMANUEL'S "COUNTRYWIDE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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