Story by Destinee Marking, Staff writer
In a town hall meeting at Murray State Wednesday, U.S. Rep. James Comer voiced his concerns regarding the current state of health care.
This was Comer’s first student-based town hall meeting and his thirtieth town hall meeting in this district.
He specifically spoke about Medicaid and its tie to the state of Kentucky.
“Medicaid is a huge problem, especially in Kentucky,” Comer said. “We have a situation now where 31 percent of the state is on Medicaid.”
Comer compared this number to that of Tennessee, in which less than 20 percent of the population is supported by the program, according to tn.gov.
Comer does not support Medicaid when people who are capable of working and earning money are receiving assistance.
“The health care issue is probably the most difficult issue that I have ever dealt with in my public service time,” Comer said.
Comer said he does support Medicaid as a “temporary safety net” for those who need it for reasons such as not being able to work.
According to The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Medicaid is a program that assists low-income individuals of every age. It is a federal-state program.
The program is jointly funded by both the federal government and states. The federal government equips states with only a percentage of funding, according to medicaid’s website.
Comer said if the amount the state is paying to fund Medicaid increases, the state of Kentucky will go bankrupt. This will leave no funding available for other places it is needed.
“Murray State will be cut to where they have zero financial aid from the state,” Comer said. “The Calloway County school system will have zero aid from the state. The Murray school system will have no money from the state. It’s all going to go into Medicaid and this pension problem that they have.”
Comer said he thinks states should have the ability to have more say in their Medicaid.
Related to health care reform is tax reform.
Comer said reforming health care before carrying on with tax reform is President Donald Trump’s agenda. He said the goal is to contain or decrease the number of people supported by Medicaid so the federal government saves money that can be used to provide tax cuts.
“We have to grow the economy,” Comer said. “One way that most economists believe we can grow our economy is to provide tax relief across the board.”
Comer outlined three issues that he said come up at every town hall meeting: North Korea, health care and tax reform.
These issues are more prevalent now than when he was first elected 10 months ago.
“With North Korea, we have a serious situation,” Comer said.
He said North Korea obtains nuclear weapons and their technology is more advanced than the United States thought.
These discussions are important to students like Rebecca Mackey, senior from Elizabethtown, Kentucky.
Mackey said our generation should pay attention to politics and how the government is operating.
“Our generation is the next generation to step into those roles,” Mackey said. “Today they are making decisions that will affect myself and everyone else in my generation.”
Mackey said she especially cares about what Comer is doing in Washington D.C. and cannot wait to see what the future holds for this district under his representation.
J.T. Payne, president of Murray State College Republicans, said he was pleased with the overall variety of viewpoints represented in the audience.
“Our main goal with this event was to provide students and community members with a way to hear about legislative policy on the federal level,” Payne said.
Comer said his goal is to hold meetings in all 35 counties across Kentucky’s 1st congressional district so he can take what he learns and apply it to his job in Washington.