Kimmel Attacks GOP for Putting CHIP Funding on Back Burner While Negotiating Tax Plan

December 12, 2017

Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel started off his Monday show with a monologue featuring his baby son, Billy, and argued for Congress to pass funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program, calling Republicans' current focus on tax reform over CHIP "disgusting."

Billy was born with a heart condition and needed surgery just after his birth. He had a second surgery last week, and Kimmel was off the air tending to his son.

Kimmel held Billy during his monologue while attacking the GOP for putting off funding for CHIP amid tax reform negotiations.

After thanking his guest hosts from last week, Kimmel looked at his son and got emotional.

"Daddy cries on TV, but Billy doesn't," Kimmel said. "It's unbelievable."

Kimmel then said that delayed funding for CHIP is threatening children's wellbeing from every income level in the U.S.

"[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," Kimmel said through choked back tears.

The comedian said that almost everyone knows someone who is covered under CHIP because, he claimed, one in eight kids are signed up for the child health insurance program.

"And it's not controversial; it's not a partisan thing," Kimmel said, citing the last funding vote for CHIP in 2015, when it passed 392-37 in the House and 92-8 in the Senate. "Overwhelmingly Democrats and Republicans supported it, until now. Now CHIP has become a bargaining chip."

Kimmel criticized Republican lawmakers for putting CHIP on the "back burner" while negotiating a new tax reform plan, "which means 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," Kimmel said.

To wrap up his Monday night monologue, Kimmel said he was not sure what could be more "disgusting" than kicking two million children with serious chronic conditions off their health insurance.

"I don't know about you, I've had enough of this," Kimmel said. "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."

Kimmel did not mention that the House passed legislation to fund CHIP for five years last month, despite opposition from Democrats, who opposed how the legislation was paid for. The bill, which passed 242-174, then headed to the Senate, where little action has been taken on it.

The Senate Finance Committee passed its own version of the legislation, but has not agreed on offsets to fund it.

The House bill would cut money from Obamacare's public health fund and shorten the grace period for Obamacare enrollees who fail to make premium payments. It would also charge higher premiums to wealthier Medicare beneficiaries.

Democrats have accused Republicans of using the bill to gut Obamacare.