Jimmy Kimmel is a very funny guy, but he’s dead serious when it comes to advocating for affordable health care for infants and children. His infant son, Billy, underwent his second open-heart surgery a week ago and made a rare appearance with his dad on the show last night. Billy was born in May with a congenital heart disease that will require at least one more surgery. Since Billy’s birth, Kimmel has used his late-night show as a powerful platform to discuss health care issues — especially ones affecting children.
A tearful Kimmel — holding a very laid-back Billy — joked, “Daddy cries on TV but Billy doesn’t. It’s unbelievable.” Kimmel then made an impassioned plea to the audience to demand funding for CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), a safety-net health insurance program for children of families of all incomes. The very successful program — two decades old — is in danger of expiring as early as next month thanks to inaction by the current administration.
Kimmel continued, “Parents of children with cancer, diabetes and heart problems are about to get letters saying their coverage could be cut off next month. Merry Christmas, right? This is literally a life and death program for American kids. 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.”
“Imagine getting that letter, not knowing if you’ll be able to afford to save your children’s life,” Kimmel said. “This is not a hypothetical; about 2 million CHIP kids have serious chronic conditions. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of this. 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.”
What can be done? Kimmel urged viewers to call Senate and House phones at 202-225-3121 and demand that CHIP funding be reinstated immediately. We can only hope our elected officials are listening — and will finally start putting our kids before themselves.