On Tuesday, ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel returned from his several-weeks-long hiatus from being the conscience of America — a hiatus conveniently taken during Hollywood’s latest round of sex abuse scandals — to lecture Americans about the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). He brought along with him his son, Billy, who became a cause celebre after Kimmel used Billy’s open heart surgery to stump against a Republican plan to curtail Obamacare. “I was out last week because this guy had heart surgery,” Kimmel told the audience, beginning to cry. “But look, he’s fine, everybody. He may have pooped, but he’s fine.” He then added, “Daddy cries on TV, but Billy doesn’t — it’s unbelievable.”
Then Kimmel got to the root of his rationale for bringing little Billy on the air as a national political prop: “[CHIP] covers around nine million American kids, whose parents make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but don’t have access to affordable coverage through their jobs. … Now CHIP has become a bargaining chip. It’s on the back burner while they work out the new tax plans.” He explained, “Parents of children with cancer, and diabetes, and heart problems are about to get letters saying their coverage can get cut off next month. Merry Christmas, right? This year they let the money for it expire while they work on getting tax cuts for their millionaire and billionaire donors.” He added, “I’ve had enough of this. I don’t know what could be more disgusting than putting a tax cut that mostly goes to rich people ahead of the lives of children.” He urged his viewers to “jam the House and Senate phones tonight, tomorrow.”
Let’s put aside Kimmel’s use of his son’s condition — AGAIN — to press forward his political agenda. I have personal issues with that strategy, given that my daughter had an open heart surgery at the same hospital as Kimmel’s son, with the same surgeon, but I don’t cite her surgery as either moral or philosophic support for my health care positions.
But the bigger issue here is that Kimmel is flat wrong.
The House passed legislation last month to fund CHIP for five more years, but Democrats opposed it on the grounds that they didn’t like its funding mechanism. The Senate Finance Committee passed a version of that bill, too, but hasn’t figured out the offsets for funding it yet; Senator Orren Hatch (R-UT) has pushed forward the KIDS Act, reauthorizing CHIP for another five years as well. Hatch was one of the original authors of CHIP in 1997.
Meanwhile, CHIP hasn’t gone unfunded — the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have been signing checks to states for the last two months. Last week, President Trump signed funding for CHIP to avoid the consequences of a government shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on Sunday, “We need to make sure the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which is expiring, gets to panel before the end of the year.”
CHIP will be passed; it has nothing to do with tax cuts whatsoever. But that doesn’t stop Kimmel from using his son to push political nonsense that the Left eats up with a spoon.