After Jimmy Kimmel delivered what has easily become one of the most watched and talked-about monologues in late-night history last Monday, he decided to take the rest of the week off to finish his paternity leave.
As guest hosts like Will Arnett and Kristen Bell took over hosting duties, Kimmel stayed home with his wife and infant son, whose “pre-existing” heart condition briefly transformed the health-care debate in America—but not enough to prevent House Republicans from narrowly passing a bill that would dismantle the Affordable Care Act’s basic protections.
This Monday night was Kimmel’s first real opportunity to weigh in on the GOP’s actions, and he did not hesitate to do so, while also working in some self-deprecating jokes about just how viral his emotional story went.
“One week ago tonight I made an emotional speech that was seen by millions, and as a result of my powerful words on that night, Republicans in Congress had second thoughts about repeal and replace,” Kimmel said at the top of his monologue following a resounding ovation. “They realized that what is right is right and I saved health insurance in the United States of America.” Realizing his error, he added, “I didn’t save it? They voted against it anyway? I really need to pay more attention to the news.”
Kimmel assured viewers that his newborn son Billy is “doing very well,” showing a video taken that day of him smiling, either because so many people donated to Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles or because he has gas. “We don’t know,” the host said. “There was so much kindness, so much compassion, it was hard to even process. But there were also—and I know this is going to shock you—there were also some not so nice things that people said online about me, including members of the media.”
From there, he called out the New York Post, the Washington Times—“I don’t think it’s a real newspaper”—and others for labeling him an “out-of-touch, Hollywood elitist creep.” After growing up poor, he said, “My dream was to become an out-of-touch Hollywood elitist, and I guess it came true.”
“And I would like to apologize for saying that children in America should have health care. It was insensitive, it was offensive, and I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me,” Kimmel added. “There are some very sick and sad people out there, here’s one of them,” he said, introducing a clip of Newt Gingrich claiming that no children are being denied care because their parents cannot pay. But as Kimmel pointed out, that does not include the many follow-up doctor visits that are required to keep sick babies healthy.
“I don’t know if the double layers of Spanx are restricting the blood flow to his brain,” Kimmel said of Gingrich. And on the former House speaker’s critique of his comedy, he added, “Listen, Newt Gingrich does know a lot about comedy. This is a man who helped lead the impeachment effort against Bill Clinton for trying to cover up his affair while he was having an affair. That is hilarious.”
During his initial speech, Kimmel urged Americans to put aside “partisan squabbles” and identify the health-care policies on which “every decent person” can agree. With that in mind, he invited Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy on his show Monday night to discuss how 13 male GOP senators plan to essentially rewrite the House bill. Ahead of that effort, Cassidy has proposed something he is calling the “Jimmy Kimmel Test,” which would make adequate coverage for pre-existing conditions a priority.
“Thank you for naming a test after me,” Kimmel said. “I always figured if I ever got a test named after me it would be for some embarrassing sexually transmitted disease.”
For his part, Cassidy insisted that the Senate bill will achieve what the House bill failed to do: cover pre-existing conditions while lowering costs for middle-class Americans. He also repeatedly defended President Donald Trump, who he said has the same goals in mind when it comes to health care.
“Will the Senate make sure that the millions of children who count on Medicaid don’t lose access to medical care because this House bill would cut, they say, $888 billion, mostly to benefit wealthy Americans?” Kimmel asked. To that question, Cassidy did not answer a simple yes or no, but rather once against referred to his “Jimmy Kimmel Test.”
“Senator, since you mentioned this test, since I am Jimmy Kimmel, I would like to make a suggestion as what the Jimmy Kimmel Test should be,” the host said. “The Jimmy Kimmel Test, I think, should be no family should be denied medical care, emergency or otherwise, because they can’t afford it. Can that be the Jimmy Kimmel Test, as simple as that?”
When Cassidy said the hard part will be figuring out how to pay for it, Kimmel added, “Well, I can think of a way to pay for it, is don't give a huge tax cut to millionaires like me and instead leave it how it is.” In other words, stop trying to repeal and replace Obamacare. “That’s my vote,” he added.