WASHINGTON D.C. — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), the co-sponsors of the latest GOP legislation to repeal Obamacare, pushed back on Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night attacks on the bill, and said that he should have called them before calling Cassidy a “liar.”
In an interview with NBC News on Wednesday, Graham said that while Kimmel is “funny” and a “decent fellow,” he “wished he would have called Senator Cassidy to ask him, ‘Is what I am reading true?’ Because he heard some liberal talking points that are absolutely garbage. He bought it hook, line and sinker.”
On his show on Tuesday night, Kimmel attacked Cassidy as a “liar” for coming on his show earlier this year and saying that he would not back any legislation that does not protect people with pre-existing conditions, or does not cover families who face healthcare emergencies. Kimmel drew attention earlier this year for delivering a monologue in which he talked about his infant son’s heart surgery, and made the case for affordable health care for families who have less means in such emergencies.
But Cassidy insisted that his healthcare legislation would pass what he has dubbed the “Kimmel test,” or ensuring that all families have affordable care.
“It was a personal attack, and I cannot help that, but all I can say is if you are in Texas, or if you are Maine, or Virginia, or Missouri, there will be resources in your state that you have not had that can provide you coverage, and we have protections for pre-existing conditions,” he told NBC News.
Still, organizations like the American Medical Association and AARP are lining up against the bill, while progressive groups were using Kimmel’s monologue in sounding the alarm on the legislation. They say that the bill weakens existing protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
A group of governors, including Republicans John Kasich of Ohio and Brian Sandoval of Nevada, also sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), urging him not to bring the legislation to the floor. “Only open, bipartisan approaches can achieve true, lasting reforms,” they wrote.
Groups like the AMA say that the legislation would result in tens of millions losing coverage. But it’s unlikely that the Congressional Budget Office will produce an assessment in time of what the Graham-Cassidy bill will do to the insurance market, as they have in past efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Republicans have until Sept. 30 to pass legislation with only a simple majority.