President Obama, the man responsible for the Affordable Care Act, i.e. "Obamacare," responded to Jimmy Kimmel's passionate endorsement of the ACA on Twitter.
"Well said, Jimmy. That's exactly why we fought so hard for the ACA, and why we need to protect it for kids like Billy," the 44th President wrote. "And congratulations!"
This story was originally published on May 2 at 10:45 a.m.
Compared to other late-night hosts, Jimmy Kimmel has always been apolitical and little more irreverent. He keeps his comedy and his politics pretty separate. Last night, though, Kimmel demonstrated an unprecedented emotional rawness in a 13-minute monologue regarding his infant son, who was born last month, as Yahoo reports.
"I try not to get emotional," the host began, already tearing up. "But it was a scary story and before I go into it, I want you to know it has a happy ending. Don't get too upset — leave that to me."
Kimmel's wife Molly McNearney, the co-head writer of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, gave birth to their second child, a boy named William John Kimmel on April 21. (Their first, Jane Kimmel, will be 3 years old in July.) Shortly after the birth, a nurse discovered that the baby had a heart disease called tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia (also sometimes referred to as TOF). The American Heart Association describes the condition as a "heart defect" that causes "an obstruction from the heart to the lungs." It can be corrected with surgery, although a complete repair cannot be performed on a newborn baby. The newest Kimmel underwent heart surgery April 24, an experience the host referred to as "terrifying."
"So we put the baby in an ambulance to Children's Hospital Los Angeles, and on Monday morning, [cardiac surgeon] Dr. Starnes opened his chest and fixed one of the two defects in his heart," Kimmel recounted. "It was a success — it was the longest three hours of my life."
The child will have to endure another procedure in a few weeks, and yet another in his early teens to fully repair the defect. Nevertheless, Billy Kimmel is doing well, thanks to the doctors and staff at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. According to the host, he's eating, sleeping, and peeing on his mother, all things characteristic of a healthy baby.
In perhaps the most emotional part of the monologue, the 49-year-old thanked all those involved in the trying experience. This included all the nurses at Cedars, the doctor who performed the procedure, and the respiratory therapist who kept the baby breathing during the surgery. Kimmel then implored his audience to donate to Children's Hospital Los Angeles, a nonprofit institution that provides pediatric health care.
"I hope you never have to go [to Children's Hospital], but if you do, you'll see so many kids from so many financial backgrounds being cared for so well," Kimmel explained.
The speech took a turn for the political at the very end, when Kimmel gave a passionate plea for better access to health care. "President Trump last month proposed a 6 billion dollar cut to the National Institute of Health. And thank god our congressman made a deal last night to not go along... I applaud them for doing that."
The host continued, "We we brought up to believe we live in the greatest country in the world. But until a few years ago, millions and millions of us had no access to health insurance at all...if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there's a good chance you'd never be able to get health insurance because you had a preexisting condition."
"If your baby is going to die, and it doesn't have to, it shouldn't matter how much money you make. I think that's something whether you're a Republican or a Democrat or whatever or something else — we all agree on that, right?"
He ended his speech with a call to arms. "Let's stop with the nonsense. This isn't football. There are no teams. We are the team. We are the United States."
The best detail of the story by far, though, is that even Matt Damon — Kimmel's sworn enemy — sent flowers.
Watch the full clip of Kimmel's speech, below.
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