In a new interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Jimmy Kimmel shared the good news that his baby son Billy is “doing great” following emergency open-heart surgery shortly after he was born April 21.
The ABC late-night show also expressed gratitude for all the good wishes he received from fans and from notable public figures, including members of Congress and some who have held the title of POTUS.
After talking about Billy’s health crisis in an emotional monologue on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” former President Barack Obama sent a “very nice letter,” Kimmel said. “He wished us the best and thanked us for speaking.”
During his monologue Kimmel got both personal and political about Billy being born with a serious and rare heart defect that required the emergency surgery and that will require more surgeries as he gets older. At the time, Kimmel’s monologue was seen by some as offering a vivid argument against the GOP push to repeal Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
For Kimmel, whose comedy usually doesn’t get overtly political, the ordeal faced by him, his wife Molly McNearney and their family was a stark reminder of the importance of health care for people with pre-existing conditions. Kimmel said that prior to Obamacare, those born with congenital heart issues like his son could be turned down for health insurance.
In addition to Obama, Kimmel said he had also received letters from former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
“My goal always is to not make this a red or blue issue, because I don’t think it is,” Kimmel said.
Still, he told the Hollywood Reporter he has yet to year from the current occupant of the White House.
Maybe there is a reason for that. Last month, President Donald Trumplost his effort to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a scaled-down GOP plan when three GOP senators, John McCain of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, voted it down.
The proposed “skinny” bill would have still barred insurers from denying insurance to people with pre-existing conditions, but it could have led to insurers pulling out of the market as young and healthy Americans drop their coverage, leaving behind a pool of sicker enrollees with higher medical costs.
Kimmel told the Hollywood Reporter that, leading up to his monogue, he had wanted to find something positive out of his son’s situation. “I had a lot of time to think at the hospital, and it just so happened that our government was deciding whether or not millions of people should have health care at the time,” he said, referring to the House efforts in the spring to repeal Obamacare.
With everything that has happened in his own life and nationally, Kimmel said he would love to talk to Trump about health care policy in America. Unlike Ellen DeGeneres, who said she would not have Trump on her show, Kimmel said he “absolutely would.”
“I would love to talk to him about this,” Kimmel said. “I would like to see, as a father and a person who prides himself on speaking the truth, what he thinks. If I were his next-door neighbor and I didn’t have health insurance for my child, I find it hard to believe he would ignore that.”
As for Billy, Kimmel told the Reporter that the little boy had made his first visit to his office. Kimmel joked: “He’s juggling. He’s translating Flaubert from French into English. He’s really an amazing kid.”
Actually, Kimmel said, “He is very interested in ceiling fans. He likes those a lot. I could get him to pay the same amount for Netflix just to watch ceiling fans.”
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