LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Wayne White is one of more than a million Kentuckians whose health care is covered by Medicaid. Yet the 28-year-old retail worker said he’s fine if Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with something that could limit his options.
“I trust the president,” White said while wearing in line to hear Trump speak in Louisville. “Whatever he’s got in store, I’ll just go along with it. I believe he knows what he is doing and, in the future, if I have to change, I’ll change.”
White was one of thousands of people who flocked to hear Trump speak in Kentucky as he seeks to rally support around a Republican health care plan with an uncertain future. Democrats say the plan would be devastating for the 14 million people who would lose health insurance. But some Republicans, including Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, say the plan does not go far enough.
Kentucky has emerged as a battleground for the health care debate, with both sides holding it up as an example of the health law’s promise and pitfalls.
A Democratic governor set up a state-run health exchange and expanded the state’s Medicaid program to bring coverage to more than 500,000 people. He was succeeded by a Republican governor who dismantled the exchange and has vowed to scale back the expansion because of its cost.
A few hundred feet from where White stood in line, corralled behind a fence near the entrance to the parking lot, Joe and Tricia Anderson held signs touting the 92.5 percent of Kentuckians who are now covered by health insurance. Joe Anderson said the Affordable Care Act has helped his mother, who because of a heart condition had trouble finding insurance before the law made it illegal for companies to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions.
“I’ve seen the good that the ACA has done, and this new plan seems really reckless,” he said.
But Jackie Temple of Tell City, Indiana, said premiums for her and her husband’s health insurance are now five times higher than they were before the Affordable Care Act went into effect.
“It just wrecked us,” she said.
The protesters and Trump supporters mostly kept their distance from each other, with both groups constantly scanning the sky hoping to catch a glimpse of Air Force One.
Earlier in the day, FBI Director James Comey confirmed the agency was investigating whether Trump’s associates colluded with Russia during the presidential election. That was enough for 58-year-old Cathy Mekus of Louisville to label the president a traitor.
“I cannot believe we have a man who is an agent of a foreign government as our president,” she said, adding: “I realize it hasn’t yet been proven.”
Comey also told Congress there was no evidence former President Barack Obama had spied on Trump during the campaign, despite Trump’s tweets to the contrary.
That was troubling even for some of Trump’s most passionate supporters, including 59-year-old Jessie Skinner, who purchased a button while waiting in line that read “Very Fake CNN News.”
“I wish he hadn’t of done that, not unless you’ve actually got proof,” Skinner said. “Don’t accuse somebody, in the position that he’s in at that level, unless you’ve got proof.”
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