Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel sounded off on Tuesday to blast Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy for his part in crafting the latest GOP health care proposal that, Kimmel said, goes against the promises the senator had made to him on his show.
Kimmel had discussed health care with Cassidy after the late-night host revealed in early May that his newborn son had open-heart surgery to fix birth defects. This led Kimmel to deliver an emotional message to Congress, pleading for affordable health care for Americans, especially those in similar situations.
Cassidy then famously coined the "Jimmy Kimmel test" phrase, saying families like Kimmel's should not have to deal with high premiums, lifetime caps and rate hikes when it comes to coverage. A week after Kimmel's plea, the Louisiana senator appeared on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" to expand on his idea of affordable health care.
Kimmel is now claiming Cassidy "lied right to my face" in that conversation.
Cassidy delivered his replacement for the Affordable Health Care Act last week. In a proposed bill written with Sen. Lindsey Graham, states would receive block grants and cuts would be made to Medicaid, among other things.
"This new bill (passes) a different 'Jimmy Kimmel test,'" Kimmel said on his show. "In this one, your child with a pre-existing condition will get the care he needs if, and only if, his father is Jimmy Kimmel. Otherwise, you might be screwed."
He claimed the Graham-Cassidy bill would kick 30 million Americans off their insurance and give states certain control over lifetime caps and coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. The Congressional Budget Office said it plans to deliver an initial analysis on the bill early next week, but can't do a full analysis by the end of the month. That's when a crucial deadline hits for Senate Republicans to act under special budget rules.
In the meantime, groups including the American Medical Association and AARP have come out against the proposal.
Kimmel went on to argue this latest bill is "actually worse" than the GOP's previous attempt to replace the ACA. That "skinny repeal" came to a halt when Republican Sen. John McCain delivered the deciding vote against it in the early hours of July 28.
Before McCain went thumbs down, GOP Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski also voted "no."
"I hope they have the courage and good sense to do that again with this one," Kimmel said of the Graham-Cassidy proposal, calling it a "scam of a bill."
"Health care is complicated. It's boring. I don't want to talk about it… And that's what these guys are relying on," Kimmel continued. "Most of the congresspeople who vote on this bill probably won't even read it, and they want us to do the same thing. They want us to treat it like an iTunes service agreement."
Cassidy responded to Kimmel's heated monologue with a statement late Tuesday.
"We have a September 30th deadline on our promise," the senator wrote. "Let's finish the job. We must because there is a mother and father whose child will have insurance because of Graham Cassidy Heller Johnson. There is someone whose pre-existing condition will be addressed because of GCHJ. I dedicated my medical career to care for such as these; this is why GCHJ must pass."
Speaking on CNN Wednesday morning, Cassidy also argued that "more people will have coverage and we'll protect people with pre-existing conditions."
"I'm sorry he does not understand," Cassidy said of Kimmel.
Independent analysts have said the proposal allows states to take action that could raise the cost of coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. Cassidy said that if a state applied for a waiver it must provide affordable coverage.
As Kimmel urged viewers to call their representatives with opposition to the bill, he offered one final reason why he renewed his health care debate.
"Before you post a nasty Facebook message saying I'm politicizing my son's health problems, I want you to know, I am politicizing my son's health problems because I have to," Kimmel said. "My family has health insurance. We don't have to worry about this, but other people do."