Comedian Jimmy Kimmel broke with his usual show format on Monday when he made a plea for compassionate health care for children. He said no parent should ever be in the position of having to choose between saving their child’s life and financial stability.
Kimmel, 49, became a father for the fourth time on April 21 when his second wife, Molly, gave birth to a son named William. Shortly after birth, William was diagnosed with a heart problem that threatened his life and required immediate surgery.
The comedian said waiting for the surgery to end was “the longest three hours of his life.” He then showed a photo of the baby and said while William pulled through, he would require further surgeries in the future.
Kimmel directed his next remarks to Congress, which is currently considering a new health plan that would reduce protections for those with pre-existing conditions. He said that while the majority of Americans grew up believing they lived in the greatest country on Earth, millions of people had no access to health insurance until the Affordable Care Act (ACA) went into effect three years ago.
Kimmel added that prior to the ACA requiring coverage for pre-existing conditions, a baby born with congenital heart disease like William likely would not have survived long enough to be denied health insurance.
The Kaiser Family Foundation confirmed that many insurers used to routinely deny coverage for a large number of congenital issues because they were considered to be pre-existing conditions. The fact that the babies were born with the ailments made no difference.
A Pew poll conducted in January found that 60 percent of Americans want the federal government to guarantee health coverage for everyone in the country. That included over 50 percent of Republican households that earn less than $30,000 per year.
Kimmel finished by begging Congress to not repeal the ACA. He said whether a baby lives or dies should not be based on income, and partisanship should not stand in the way of decency.