By now, you’ve probably seen nighttime talk show host Jimmy Kimmel’s emotional monologue about his newborn son, shared to social media or posted on your favorite news site. Doctors discovered shortly after birth that Kimmel’s baby, Billy, has a congenital heart condition that reduces the amount of oxygen in his blood.
The condition, officially called Tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia, occurs when the pulmonary valve between the heart and lungs does not develop properly. This results in a hole between the heart’s pumping chambers. Specialized cardiac surgeons can close up the hole and make an artificial valve, so that most patients can now go on to live normal lives. In the case of Kimmel’s son, emergency surgery was a success.
Kimmel is an Unexpected Advocate for the Affordable Care Act
How does this tie into the politics of health care? Kimmel is not known for his political jokes or banter — he leaves that up to other hosts, like Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers. But Kimmel took the opportunity to link his family’s experience into the national debate about the Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare by many.
“Before [the Affordable Care Act passed], if you were born with a congenital heart disease like my son was, there was a good chance you’d never be able to get health insurance because you had a preexisting condition,” he said.
Kimmel hopes legislators tackling health care issues will maintain Obamacare’s requirement that insurance companies provide coverage to patients with preexisting conditions.
The Effect of Jimmy Kimmel’s Celebrity on Health Care Politics
While Republicans are working to repeal the ACA and replace it with a different plan, many Americans are in favor of keeping the requirement to cover preexisting conditions. That swing in public opinion is reflected in President Trump’s recent comments about a new Republican plan that “pre-existing conditions are in the bill. And I mandate it. I said, ‘Has to be.'”
Jimmy Kimmel may not regularly offer political commentary in his late night show, but his poignant story about his son and the importance of having coverage for preexisting conditions sums up why many Americans believe that some government regulations from the ACA need to remain in any government plan for national health care.