If you’re a fan of late-night television, then you know already that Jimmy Kimmel has had a particularly challenging year. His son Billy was born in April of this year with a rare congenital heart defect. Since Billy’s birth, Kimmel has spoken candidly multiple times about the state of healthcare in the U.S.
This month, Billy went through a second heart surgery — and it went great! To celebrate Billy’s successful surgery — and to shed additional light on the importance of children’s healthcare and medical insurance — Jimmy Kimmel brought little Billy onto the set of Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Three hours after Billy was born, a doctor noticed that his color wasn’t quite right. It was soon discovered that he had been born with a congenital heart defect known as tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) with pulmonary atresia. At three days old, Billy had his first surgery.
When he went back to his show, Kimmel tearfully pleaded with politicians on both sides of the aisle to ensure that other children like Billy would have access to the healthcare they need, saying, “If your baby is going to die, and it doesn’t have to, it should not matter how much money you make. I saw a lot of families there. And no parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life. It just shouldn’t happen. Not here.”
Little Billy even helped him craft his opening monologue.
That is one talented (and very adorable) baby!
Cassidy had said he would only support a healthcare bill that would take care of kids (like Billy) whose parents make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but still need hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of care.
“This guy, Bill Cassidy, just lied right to my face,” Kimmel said.
Happily, Cassidy’s healthcare bill was not passed by Congress.
He had several guest hosts cover for him during his absence, including Melissa McCarthy, Chris Pratt, Neil Patrick Harris, and Tracee Ellis Ross.
But last night, Kimmel finally returned to the show — and he brought a very special guest with him.
The crowd cheered as Kimmel walked onstage with Billy in his arms.
You can’t deny it — that kid is flippin’ adorable.
Kimmel began his monologue by thanking his guest hosts for volunteering entire days out of their busy lives to cover him. Billy chomped on his dad’s microphone.
“Daddy cries on TV but Billy doesn’t,” Kimmel said. “It’s unbelievable!”
Kimmel also went on to thank the doctors and nurses at Children’s Hospital who treated Billy.
“And not just Billy,” Kimmel said. “Children from every income level whose health is especially threatened right now because of something you’ve probably never heard of. It’s called CHIP.”
CHIP stands for Children’s Healthcare Insurance Program that covers 9 million children whose parents make too much to qualify for Medicaid but don’t have access to affordable coverage through their jobs.
“It’s not controversial. It’s not a partisan thing,” Kimmel said. Last time funding for CHIP was up for authorization was in 2015. Funding was approved by the overwhelming majority of Congress.
“CHIP has become a bargaining chip,” Kimmel said in his monologue. “It’s on the backburner while they work out their new tax plan, which means parents of children with cancer and diabetes and heart problems are about to get letters saying their coverage could be cut off next month. Merry Christmas, right?”
As Republicans scramble to add tax cuts for the mega rich, funding for CHIP has been allowed to run out. As Kimmel puts it, this is literally a “life-and-death program for American kids.”
Kimmel has done an incredible job of making sure that everyone who watches understands exactly how real the issue of providing adequate, affordable healthcare for children is. Previously, he’s said, “Before you post a nasty Facebook message saying I’m politicizing my son’s health problems, I want you to know: I am politicizing my son’s health problems because I have to.”
Kimmel clearly does an amazing job, but the true star is obviously Billy.
He manages to simultaneously steal our hearts and make us consider the real ramifications of our super messed up healthcare situation.
Kimmel is urging everyone to call the House and Senate at (202) 225-3121 to tell them to take a break from working on those tax cuts and instead focus on funding CHIP immediately. It’s an easy way to make a difference in the lives of little kids just like Billy throughout the country.