“Hi, I’m Jimmy. This is Billy. I was out last week because this guy had heart surgery. But look, he’s fine, everybody!”
That’s how a beaming Jimmy Kimmel, balancing his infant son, Billy, in his arms, opened Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Monday night. The comedian took the past week off from hosting the late-night show to care for Billy as he underwent another heart surgery (the child was born with tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia, a rare congenital heart defect).
Back in May, Kimmel went viral after sharing the news of his son’s illness and making a tear-filled plea for Obamacare, in order to help those in similar situations who lacked his celebrity resources.
And on Monday, he lovingly stared at his cute baby boy, and, with tears welling in his eyes, said, “Daddy cries on TV but Billy doesn’t. It’s unbelievable.”
Then Kimmel made the case for CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides health coverage to families who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid yet don’t have access to affordable coverage via their jobs. CHIP covers around 8.9 million U.S. children and 370,000 pregnant women—a program that Republicans are threatening to eliminate. President Trump recently signed a continuing resolution to keep the federal government funded through Dec. 22, but provisions do not yet call for the funding of the CHIP program in 2018.
CHIP costs $8 billion while the GOP tax plan is calling for $6 trillion in tax cuts, mostly for the wealthy.
“It almost certainly covers children you know. About one in eight children are covered only by CHIP,” Kimmel said. “Now, CHIP has become a bargaining chip. It’s on the back burner while [Republicans] work out their new tax plans, 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? This happened because Congress, about 72 days ago, failed to approve funding for CHIP since the first time it was created about two decades ago.”
“It’s always had bipartisan support, but this year, they let the money for it expire while they work on getting tax cuts for their millionaire and billionaire donors,” he continued. “Imagine getting that letter literally not knowing how you’ll afford to save your child’s life. This is not a hypothetical: About 2 million CHIP kids have serious chronic conditions. I don’t know about you, I’ve had enough of this. I don’t know what could be more disgusting than putting a tax cut that mostly goes to rich people ahead of the lives of children. Why hasn’t CHIP been funded already?”
Kimmel then called on his audience to spread call their House and Senate representatives and voice their support of CHIP, as well as share the hashtag #FundCHIPNow. In addition, he reminded viewers who don’t have health insurance to go to Healthcare.gov and sign up for Obamacare, since there’s only four days left to do it.
“Obamacare is not dead,” he declared, to heavy applause.