Jimmy Kimmel tears apart Fox News host and doubles down on his Republican healthcare bill attack

‘I don’t get anything out of this, Brian, you phony little creep. Oh, I’ll pound you when I see you,’ Kimmel said to Fox host Brian Kilmeade

Alexandra Wilts
Washington DC
Thursday 21 September 2017 15:39 BST
Jimmy Kimmel on Bill Cassidy: "Either he doesn't understand his bill or he lied to my face"

Late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel has doubled down on his criticism of Republicans’ latest healthcare bill as opposition mounts against the party’s last-ditch effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Kimmel has used his show Jimmy Kimmel Live multiple times this week to blast the measure and one of its drafters, Bill Cassidy, telling the Republican senator to stop “jamming this horrible bill down our throats”.

Kimmel’s attacks led to Fox TV host Brian Kilmeade calling him a member of the “Hollywood elite” for “pushing politics” – to which Kimmel responded by declaring that Kilmeade “kisses my ass like a little boy meeting Batman” whenever they cross paths.

“The reason I’m talking about this is because my son had an open-heart surgery and has to have two more, and because of that I learned there are kids with no insurance in the same situation,” Kimmel said. “I don’t get anything out of this, Brian, you phoney little creep. Oh, I’ll pound you when I see you.”

The late-night host has become an unexpected health policy wonk and fierce advocate of Obamacare this year as debate has raged in Washington over how to reform the US’s healthcare system.

In May, he delivered an emotional monologue in which he revealed that his newborn son, Billy, was born with a heart defect that required immediate surgery.

While the operation was successful, Kimmel was deeply shaken by the experience and spoke passionately about the astronomical costs of health care: “No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life.”

He also noted that prior to the implementation of Obamacare, otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act, there was a good chance that people who had a pre-existing condition like his son Billy would have not received health insurance coverage.

Later that week, while discussing whether insurance companies should be able to cap payouts to patients, Mr Cassidy coined the phrase “the Jimmy Kimmel test,” as in: “Would a child born with congenital heart disease be able to get everything he or she would need in that first year of life?” The senator later appeared on Kimmel’s show, where he reiterated the importance of ensuring that middle-class families could afford health care.

On Wednesday, Kimmel accused Mr Cassidy of breaking a promise to oppose plans allowing insurers to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

Mr Cassidy’s measure, which he wrote with fellow Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, has gained momentum over the past week, reviving a fight that many in Washington thought was over when an Obamacare repeal bill failed on the Senate floor in July.

“I don’t want to turn this into a Kanye-and-Taylor-Swift-type situation, but when Senator Cassidy was on my show in May, he told me that he believed that every American family regardless of income should be able to get quality health care,” Kimmel said.

“And I believed he was sincere,” he continued. “Sadly, the bill he unveiled last week with Senator Lindsey Graham indicates that he was not sincere. It is, by many accounts, the worst healthcare bill yet.”

In response to Kimmel’s attack, Mr Cassidy said in an interview with Fox & Friends that “Jimmy doesn’t understand.”

“Not because he’s a talk show host – because we’ve never spoken,” Mr Cassidy continued. “He’s only heard from those on the left who are doing their best to preserve Obamacare.”

President Donald Trump on Twitter called Mr Cassidy, who is a physician, “a class act who really cares about people and their Health(care)”.

“He doesn’t lie – just wants to help people!” Mr Trump declared.

Mr Cassidy’s measure, known as the Graham-Cassidy bill, would give states money in block grants to run their own healthcare programmes.

The Centre on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank, estimates that the legislation would push millions off their health insurance and weaken protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Meanwhile, Republicans assert that Obamcare has destabilised individual markets for health insurance and has forced consumers to buy insurance they do not want or cannot afford.

Along with Kimmel, health insurers have come out against the bill as well as doctors, hospitals, AARP, patient advocates, multiple governors from both political parties and others.

Despite the growing opposition, the Senate is expected to vote on the bill next week, as many Republicans believe it’s their last shot to repeal and replace Obamacare.

“You know, I could maybe give you 10 reasons why this bill shouldn’t be considered,” Republican Senator Chuck Grassley told local reporters, according to the Des Moines Register. “But Republicans campaigned on this so often that you have a responsibility to carry out what you said in the campaign. That’s pretty much as much of a reason as the substance of the bill.”

Republicans have until the end of the month before procedural rules in the Senate make it more difficult for the party to dismantle former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law.

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