Before Jimmy Kimmel even began his Monday-night monologue on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the usually jovial host was on the verge of tears, and warned his audience about the sad story he was going to tell.
“Before I go into it, I want you to know it has a happy ending,” he said. But his story also contained a serious message to American legislators who are debating health care right now.
Kimmel told a heart-wrenching story about his newborn son, who was born a little over a week ago with a congenital heart disease that could have killed him. Kimmel’s wife Molly McNearney (who’s the co-head writer of Jimmy Kimmel Live) gave birth to William “Billy” John Kimmel on April 21. Everything seemed fine at first, but a nurse heard a murmur in his heart and noticed that he didn’t look right.
“More doctors and nurses and equipment started coming in, and they determined he wasn’t getting enough oxygen into his blood,” Kimmel explained. “It’s a terrifying thing, my wife is back in the recovery room, she has no idea what’s going on, and I’m standing in the middle of a group of very worried-looking people.”
Doctors soon decided that Billy needed open heart surgery. The surgery was a success, though Billy will need follow-up surgeries. And while Kimmel, in tears throughout the emotional, 13-minute clip, made plenty of jokes to bring some levity to the situation (“even that son of a bitch Matt Damon sent flowers”), he also used the experience to make a larger point about the current state of health care in the United States. In particular, he cited President Donald Trump’s recent proposed cuts to the National Institute of Health.
“We were brought up to believe that we live in the greatest country in the world,” Kimmel said. “Until a few years ago, millions and millions of us had no access to health insurance at all. You know, before 2014, 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.”
That detail is something we should all consider when our lawmakers and representatives are deciding on health care in the country, Kimmel declared. He also nodded to how he’s lucky to have health insurance and make enough money to pay for Billy’s treatments, breaking down at the thought of so many people who are not in a position to get the health care they need for their children.
“If your baby is going to die and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make,” Kimmel said. “I think that’s something that whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or something else, we all agree on that, right? … No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life. It just shouldn’t happen. Not here.”
Kimmel will be on paternity leave for the rest of the week.
Here’s what social networks say about this:
Sara Tucker Yeah but wouldn’t you want the ‘excitement’ of the free market? You’d get to research and cost compare across all hospitals and then make your decision. I mean meanwhile your child is slowly suffocating but this is the patient-centered solution.
Anni Mac I wouldn’t live in the US if you paid me.They only care about themselves not the poor people who can’t afford health care.We in the UK are fighting to keep our NHS ,free at the point of delivery.We don’t want your system in our country.
Samuel Leydon “If your baby is going to die and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make,” Kimmel said.
Paul Lawlor Why didn’t Jimmy engage in his right as a consumer in a free market to shop around? Why should I have to pay for his laziness? “Can’t you stick a tube down his throat while I call around for the best price on this surgery?”
Jayakumar Nair So touching. Wish him and his family the very best. I also wish the same care would he available to millions of other Americans who for no fault of their don’t have health insurance even now. The richest nation in the world should not be in this situation where we spend billions on our army and wall while within that wall our people suffer for the want of a few thousand dollars to save their kid.