Jimmy Kimmel returned to late-night television on December 11 with an important message to share. Holding his seven-month-old son William "Billy" John Kimmel — who just underwent his second heart surgery — The Jimmy Kimmel Live! host implored his audience to contact their senators regarding children's healthcare.
With his son in his arms, Kimmel said through tears: "We want to thank the very bright and talented doctors and nurses at Children's Hospital who treated Billy and many kids with so much care and compassion — children from every income level whose health is especially threatened right now because of something you probably never heard of. It's called CHIP, the Children's Health Insurance Program."
The program covers some nine million American children whose parents don't qualify for Medicaid, but don't have access to affordable healthcare via group insurance. As the current administration works on a new tax plan, Kimmel said, CHIP has "become a bargaining chip. It's been put on the back burner."
The television host went on to explain: "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 happened because Congress, about 72 days ago, failed to approve funding for CHIP, for the first time since its creation two decades ago. 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. This is not a hypothetical; about 2 million CHIP kids have serious chronic conditions," he shared. "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."
Kimmel then encouraged viewers to call House and Senate phone lines [202-225-3121] this week, and ask representatives to "take a break from tax cuts for a minute, and fully fund CHIP immediately." He also reminded viewers that open enrollment for healthcare ends on December 15.
Kimmel has been open about his son's health concerns — and has been a passionate advocate for children's healthcare — since Billy underwent his first open-heart surgery in May, at just three days old. Though he received backlash for his stance on healthcare, the host is not backing down.
After being criticized for an emotional monologue on the topic this past spring, Kimmel sarcastically responded: "I’d like to apologize for saying that children in America should have healthcare. It was insensitive. It was offensive, and I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.”