Late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel took aim Tuesday at Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy’s new co-authored healthcare bill that would undo central components of ObamaCare and replace it with block grants — or federal funds — to the states.
The host of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” who delivered a memorable monologue in May when he revealed his newborn son’s heart condition, mentioned that Cassidy appeared on that show and “was not very honest.”
“It seemed like he was being honest,” Kimmel said. “He got a lot of credit and attention for coming off like a rare, reasonable voice in the Republican Party when it came to healthcare.”
Kimmel said Cassidy coined the term, “the Jimmy Kimmel test,” which was summed up by Kimmel as: No family should be denied medical care, emergency or otherwise, because they can’t afford it.
They agreed the Jimmy Kimmel test would mean no lifetime caps, Kimmel said.
“This new bill does pass the Jimmy Kimmel test,” the host joked. “But a different Jimmy Kimmel test: this one, your child with a preexisting condition will get the care he needs, if and only if, his father is Jimmy Kimmel. Otherwise you might be screwed.”
The new legislation was penned by Cassidy, of Louisiana, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
Earlier Tueday, Cassidy retweeted a message by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who wrote that the bill’s authors “want states to implement better #healthcare ideas by taking more decision-making power out of Washington.”
Republicans must act by Sept. 30 in the Senate, or face the prospect of a Democratic filibuster. That blocking action is currently staved off by budget rules that will expire at the end of the fiscal year.
The bill would allow states to set their own coverage requirements, allow insurers to boost prices on people with serious medical conditions, end President Barack Obama’s mandates that most Americans buy insurance and that companies offer coverage to workers, and cut and reshape Medicaid.
The bill’s full impacts are difficult to predict because the Congressional Budget Office has not had time to assess it. But senators plan to move forward without a complete CBO “score,” heightening outrage from Democrats.
“This guy, Bill Cassidy, just lied to my face,” Kimmel said.
By Tuesday evening the legislation remained at least one or two votes short of the number needed for passage.
Democrats are unanimously opposed, arguing that the legislation would result in millions of Americans losing their health insurance, decrease access to affordable care and damage the Medicaid health program for the poor.
McConnell must get yes votes from 50 of the 52 Senate Republicans. That would amount to victory in the 100-member Senate, because Vice President Mike Pence — as president of the Senate — would then break a tie.
“Governors and state legislators of both parties would have both the opportunity and the responsibility to help make quality and affordable health care available to their citizens in a way that works for their own particular states,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “It’s an intriguing idea and one that has a great deal of support.”
Pence appeared at the Capitol on Tuesday and declared the Trump administration was “all in” on the effort. President Donald Trump himself was closely in touch with Graham and others.
If the bill passes, House Speaker Paul Ryan has committed to pushing it through as is, and straight to the president’s desk, according to Graham.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.