On May 12th, Jimmy Kimmel gave an emotional monologue on his late night TV show Jimmy Kimmel Live! about his newborn son’s health complications. In the week since, the video has been viewed over 10 million times on YouTube. It’s easy to dismiss it as just another feel good story, but there are several important lessons we all can learn from Kimmel’s experience – no matter which side of the aisle we sit on.
On Friday, April 21st, Kimmel’s wife gave birth to a baby boy named William. William was in seemingly great health after an easy birth; however, just a few hours into his life a nurse noticed a few early signs of what turned out to be a heart disease called tetralogy fallot with pulmonary atresia. The baby, nicknamed Billy, was slightly blue in color and there was a fain murmur in his heart.
The doctors then performed a successful three hour surgery on Monday morning when William was only three days old. He will have another surgery in 3-6 months, and then one more hopefully noninvasive procedure in his teens.
If you haven’t seen it, take a few minutes to watch the full monologue below:
Jimmy Kimmel and wife Molly McNearney brought baby William home only 6 days later and he is doing well.
Kimmel then went on to thank a list of people who helped to save his son’s life, family, friends, nurses, doctors, and even Matt Damon. He mentioned the great work that Children’s Hospital Los Angeles does for all children and his family specifically.
“This is some place, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. I hope you never have to go there, but if you do you will see so many kids with so many financial backgrounds being cared for so well and with so much compassion,” Kimmel said.
Kimmel noted that he has supported Children’s Hospital for years, and he encouraged his viewers to donate.
Kimmel then went on to talk about President Trump’s health care plan, which originally would have cut approximately $6 billion dollars in funding to the National Institute of Health. However, Congress eventually went the other direction and increased funding for NIH by $2 billion.
In discussing Obamacare and the new Trump healthcare plan, Kimmel made the argument that the amount of money you make should not determine if your children will receive medical attention.
“Whether you’re Republican or Democrat or something else, we all agree on that right? Whatever your party, whatever you believe, whoever you support, we need to make sure that the people who are supposed to represent us, the people who are meeting about this right now in Washington understand that very clearly. Let’s stop with the nonsense. This isn’t football. There are no teams. We are the team, it’s the United States. Don’t let their partisan squabbles divide us on something every decent person wants. We need to take care of each other. No parents should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life. It just shouldn’t happen. Not here.” – Jimmy Kimmel
Kimmel’s monologue went viral, and one week later on May 19th he talked about the attention he had received as a result. He also continued discussing the problems with the health care system in America. Kimmel invited Republican Senator Bill Cassidy to join the discussion. Earlier that week, Cassidy answered a question about healthcare reform on CNN by saying that any bill needs to pass “The Jimmy Kimmel Test.”
“Does it pass the Jimmy Kimmel Test?,” asked Cassidy. “Will a child born with a congenital heart disease be able to get everything he or she needs in the first year of life? I want it to pass the Jimmy Kimmel Test.”
You can watch the full follow-up here:
Kimmel asked Cassidy point blank: “Why are the vast majority of Republican politicians against making sure that Americans are truly covered when it comes to health care?” Cassidy responded by reminding Kimmel that the most well known Republican figure, President Donald Trump, has said that he wants his healthcare plan to cover all Americans, take care of pre-existing conditions without mandates, and lower premiums. However, Cassidy went on to note that the GOP healthcare bill in its current form actually raises premiums.
The Greater Baton Rouge Community Clinic that Senator Cassidy co-founded provides care to the uninsured working class, and when asked if there should even be that demographic, Cassidy said, “No, there shouldn’t be. But you have to not only have a health care plan that works for the patient, but the taxpayer as well.”
As Cassidy kept mentioning “The Jimmy Kimmel Test,” Kimmel responded by saying that in the simplest terms, he wants this test to entail that “No family should be denied medical care, emergency or otherwise because they can’t afford it.”
Cassidy replied, “We’ve gotta be able to pay for it.” Kimmel shot back: “I can think of a way to pay for it. Don’t give a huge tax cut to millionaires like me, and instead leave it how it is.”
While the discussion between Cassidy and Kimmel may have been more of a partisan debate than anything else, there is an important lesson we can learn from Kimmel’s story. Healthcare may often seem like a complicated mess of regulations, budgets, and CBO scores, but the effects of every decision are being felt every single day by real people. It shouldn’t take a story like this one to remind us that every vote has real-life consequences.
If we simply dismiss this as just another feel good story or partisan stunt, we will miss the lesson here. No matter what box you check on the ballot every four years, we are Americans first and foremost. As Americans, we must find a solution to our healthcare crisis that puts people first.
Above all, we must use kindness and compassion in every decision we make. This is more than just creating a plan to balance the budget or make certain elected officials happy. This is about real people, real lives, and real emergencies – like the one Jimmy Kimmel’s son faced. It is entirely possible to make good policy decisions that also put people first.
Finally, as Christians we also must take every opportunity to show Christ’s love to those who need it. No matter what healthcare system our government puts in place, there will always be people around us who need love, care, and compassion. Our calling is not dependent on Congress. We have a mission as followers of Christ, and it is one that we cannot afford to neglect.