Jimmy Kimmel on Thursday said it’s not his job to talk about health care — but he’s doing it anyway, until Senate Republicans’ last-ditch bill to repeal Obamacare is stopped.
“I should not be the guy you go to for information on health care,” the late-night TV host said on Thursday’s show. “And if these guys … would tell the truth for a change, I wouldn’t have to.”
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Kimmel devoted another seven minutes of his monologue to criticizing legislation backed by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), his onetime ally and guest, while urging Americans to call Congress and tell their senators to oppose the proposal. Kimmel also sharply mocked several Republicans, including President Donald Trump, who say the bill will improve health care. Kimmel instead said that it could roll back key insurance protections and lead to millions of Americans losing their coverage.
“We have until Sept. 30 to dodge this,” Kimmel said, referencing the deadline when the Senate’s budget reconciliation provisions expire. After that date, Republicans will need 60 votes, not 50, to pass an Obamacare repeal measure.
Kimmel has now focused more than 24 minutes of his program across the past three nights on the health care fight, emerging as the celebrity face of the resistance to Republicans’ bill. Kimmel has also been much louder, longer, than other high-profile Americans as Republicans try to win enough support for their repeal effort. Trump has confined his public comments to tweeting several times, while former President Barack Obama briefly criticized the bill in a reserved, indirect way, saying in a speech on Wednesday that he was frustrated about Republicans’ effort to repeal his signature law.
Kimmel first got involved in the nation’s health care fight after he delivered an emotional monologue in May about his newborn son’s surgery for a rare heart condition, and how the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, similarly provided for people with pre-existing conditions. Cassidy appeared on Kimmel’s show later that month, pledged to protect people with pre-existing conditions, and in frequent media appearances touted his package of reforms as “the Jimmy Kimmel test.”
Although their war of words escalated this week — with Kimmel calling Cassidy a liar and the Louisiana senator countering that Kimmel didn’t “understand” his bill — Kimmel tried to distance himself from those attacks, saying that he respects Cassidy’s career as a physician. “He’s done good things,” Kimmel said. “I just want him to keep doing good things. This plan is not a good thing.”
Kimmel repeatedly acknowledged that he’s not an expert on health care. “You know, a lot of people have been saying I’m not qualified to talk about this,” Kimmel said. “And that is true – I’m not qualified to talk about this. But I think those people forget Bill Cassidy named his test after me!”
Analysts from a range of health care organizations earlier this week told POLITICO that Kimmel, not Cassidy, was more accurately describing the reach of the bill.
The funnyman repeatedly tried to use humor to lighten up his serious remarks.
“We haven’t seen this many people come forward to speak out against a Bill since Cosby,” Kimmel said, with the logos of about 20 health care organizations that oppose the bill, like the American Cancer Society, arrayed behind him.