Late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel rained criticism on Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) on Tuesday night over the Republican’s role in the revival of an Obamacare repeal bill currently making its way through the Senate.
Cassidy and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are co-sponsors of a measure that would end the Affordable Care Act, putting in its place a new coverage scheme featuring fewer rules on how insurers act ― and less money to help people get coverage. Those changes, combined with additional cuts to the traditional Medicaid program, would leave millions of people without insurance either because they couldn’t afford it or because they had pre-existing medical conditions.
Kimmel, who appealed to Cassidy in June to oppose a previous measure to repeal the Affordable Care Act, said the current bill fails what has been called the “Jimmy Kimmel test,” the core tenet being: “No family should be denied medical care, emergency or otherwise, because they can’t afford it.”
“Not only did Bill Cassidy fail the Jimmy Kimmel test, he failed the Bill Cassidy test.”
Cassidy aroused ire because of what happened in May: Kimmel tearfully told his audience his son was born with a congenital heart disease and had undergone open heart surgery that may not have been covered by insurance before Obamacare was enacted.
“You were born with a pre-existing condition, and if your parents didn’t have medical insurance you might not live long enough to even get denied because of a pre-existing condition,” Kimmel said at the time. “If your baby is going to die and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make.”
Shortly afterward, Cassidy said that principle ― access for all, regardless of income or medical condition ― should guide Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. He even appeared on Kimmel’s show.
But in July, when the Senate voted on a repeal bill that clearly violated those principles, Cassidy voted yes. And now he’s pushing a bill that would, once again, expose many more people to crippling medical bills.
“This guy, Bill Cassidy, just lied to my face,” the host said. “We can’t let him do this to our children and our senior citizens and our veterans or to any of us. I am politicizing my son’s health problems because I have to.”
During his program Tuesday, Kimmel pointed to the efforts of three Republican senators, John McCain of Arizona, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, to help defeat the latest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“I hope they have the courage and good sense to do that again with this one because these other guys who claim they want Americans to have better health care ... they’re trying to sneak this scam of a bill they cooked up in,” Kimmel said of the bill that has only until Sept. 30 to pass to take advantage of parliamentary rules that allow a simple-majority vote. “They don’t even want you to see it.”
Kimmel ended the segment with a challenge.
“There’s a new Jimmy Kimmel test for you. It’s called the lie-detector test. You’re welcome to stop by the studio and take it anytime.”
Kimmel acknowledged that some viewers might object to the overtly political message of his monologue. But, he said, “I am politicizing my son’s health problems because I have to.”
Then, after listing all of the consumer, medical and health industry groups that have opposed the Graham-Cassidy bill, Kimmel posted the number for the Capitol Hill switchboard and urged his viewers to call and ask Congress to reject the legislation.