After two heart surgeries, Jimmy Kimmel’s 7-month-old son is doing just fine — but many other children are at risk. So, the late-show host brought Billy on Jimmy Kimmel Live Monday night to make another emotional plea for health care.
“Daddy cries on TV but Billy doesn’t,” Kimmel laughed as he held back tears. “It’s unbelievable.”
The host asked a few of his celebrity friends to cover the show in his stead so he could be at home as Billy recovered. Born in April, Kimmel’s son suffers from a congenital heart condition called tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia, and he underwent his first open heart surgery at 3 days old.
Now, Kimmel and Billy are standing up for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
“It covers around nine million American kids whose parents make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but don’t have access to affordable coverage through their jobs, which means it almost certainly covers children you know,” Kimmel explained during his opening monologue. “About one in eight children are covered only by CHIP.”
Now, it “has become a bargaining chip,” he added. Despite bipartisan support for the program in the past, Congress hasn’t yet renewed funding for CHIP, which ran out of federal funding at the start of October. At the beginning of December, Hillary Clinton called out Congress for letting it expire.
“It’s on the back burner while they work out the 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?” Kimmel said.
“This is literally a life-and-death program for American kids,” he added. “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.”
Kimmel urged people to call (202) 225-3121 and speak to representatives in the House and Senate to rectify this situation.
“I don’t know what could be more disgusting than putting a tax cut that mostly goes to the rich ahead of the lives of children,” he said. “Why hasn’t CHIP been funded already? If these were potato chips they were taking away from us – we would be marching on Washington with pitchforks and spears right now.”
Watch Kimmel’s plea in the clip above.