Republicans are pushing again to tear up Obamas health plan but the man once regarded as a lightweight on late-night is fast becoming a powerful GOP foe
For a second night in a row, the late-night talkshow host Jimmy Kimmel dedicated his opening monologue to excoriating a US senator who represents one half of a renewed push to tear up the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Kimmel is rapidly emerging as the unlikely leader of the counter-crusade to save the ACA, widely known as Obamacare, from Republican efforts to repeal and replace the health insurance system.
After Kimmel accused Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana, of having lied to my face about his position on healthcare, Cassidy, a medical doctor who worked in a public hospital with low-income and uninsured patients, went public to say Kimmel did not understand the bill.
But Kimmel, joking that he did not want to turn their war of words into aKanye-and-Taylor-Swift-type situation, refused to back down.
Which part dont I understand? Kimmel countered, in a 10-minute rebuttal. The part where you cut $243bn dollars from federal healthcare assistance? Am I not understanding the part where states would let insurance companies price you out of coverage for having pre-existing conditions?
Could it be, Senator Cassidy, that the problem is that I do understand and you got caught with your G-O-Penis out? Is that possible?
Cassidy, and his co-author, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, are rallying Republican senators around a last-gasp effort to repeal the ACA and replace it with legislation that largely shifts money away from states that opted to expand Medicaid coverage to states where Republican governors refused to do so.
Republican leaders in the Senate have announced that they will push for a vote early next week, although full details and implications of the bill are not clear.
Unlike many of his fellow late-night hosts, including Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee and Trevor Noah, who feast off the chaos and controversy in a Trump-era Washington, Kimmel had been considered less likely to dive into the political fray.
But as host of the Academy Awards in February, Kimmel trained a blistering opening monologue on Trump.
And in May, he revealed in a tearful speech that his son, Billy, had been born with a heart defect and nearly died. Kimmel said that thanks to the top-of-the-line healthcare, his surgery was successful.
In that 13-minute May speech, Kimmel implored Republicans to back off their effort to repeal Barack Obamas healthcare law, which has helped nearly 20 million Americans gain health insurance.
We were brought up to believe that we live in the greatest country in the world, but until a few years ago, millions and millions of us had no access to health insurance at all, Kimmel said.
Before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there was a good chance youd never be able to get health insurance because you had a pre-existing condition. You were born with a pre-existing condition. And if your parents didnt have medical insurance, you might not live long enough to even get denied because of a pre-existing condition.
Cassidy heard Kimmels plea to Republicans who were deliberating over an earlier version of ACA repeal and established what he called Jimmy Kimmel test that no family should be denied medical care because they could not afford it.
Does it pass the Jimmy Kimmel test? Cassidy told reporters on Capitol Hill when pressed on the details of the Republican healthcare plan. On CNN, Cassidy referred specifically to Kimmels sons medical history: Will a child born with a congenital heart disease get everything she or he would need in the first year of life?
Cassidy then appeared on Kimmels show and agreed that he would apply the Jimmy Kimmel test. But Cassidy ended up voting in favor of a doomed effort that would have repealed parts of the healthcare law.