Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel is mixing more and more serious stuff in with his comedy.
Kimmel took to the stage of his ABC late-night program and, for the second time in five months, urged viewers to push back against Republican lawmakers seeking to repeal the Affordable Care Act. And, in a rare instance of a late-night host singling out a regional politician, he urged his viewers to reach out to one of the bill’s sponsors, Louisiana Republican Bill Cassidy, to make their feelings known about the new proposed legislation, known as the Graham-Cassidy Bill.
“Listen. Healthcare is complicated. It’s boring. I don’t want to talk about it, and the details can be exceptionally confusing. And that’s what these guys are relying on,” Kimmel said in a monologue taped for Tuesday’s night’s broadcast of his program, “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” “They’re counting on you to be so overwhelmed by all the information – you just trust them to take care of you. But they’re not taking care of you. They’re taking care of the people who give them money like insurance companies. And we’re all just looking at our phones and liking photos on Instagram – while they’re voting on whether people can afford to keep their children alive or not!”
He saved particular score for Senator Cassidy, who recently came on his show and vowed that all Americans should have access to regular checkups, maternity care and more regardless of income or need. “Senator Cassidy, when you were on my show, you seemed like a decent guy. But here’s the thing – nobody outside of your buddies in Congress wants your bill,” said Kimmel. “Only twelve percent of Americans supported the last one, and this one is worse.” On Twitter, Kimmel urged followers to call Cassidy and other lawmakers and speak out against a new proposal making its way through Congress to pull Obamacare.
The remarks show Kimmel, known for ribald humor and clever pranks, growing increasingly politically active as a Republican-controlled Congress seeks to make far-reaching changes in social policy. Kimmel first took a stand on healthcare in May, after his newborn son, Billy, evidenced a heart condition that demanded immediate surgery. In a monologue delivered a few days after the boy’s birth, a visibly emotional Kimmel told his viewers how he and his family grappled with the problem and spoke of the importance of every American having equal access to healthcare, He has subsequently turned his focus on President Trump, telling his supporters they made a mistake in electing him.
As proposed, the Graham-Cassidy bill would repeal the individual mandate that requires consumers to purchase health insurance. The Senate requires 50 votes to pass the bill, but have until September 30th to nab support.
The growing stance is a new one for Kimmel, who, more than any of the current set of late-night hosts, hews closest to the spirit of a young David Letterman. Kimmel typically favors an elbow-in-the-ribs brand of humor, along with pranks and field pieces that sometimes reveal how little Americans know about national issues.
“With this bill, your child with a pre-existing condition will get the care he needs if – and only if – his father is Jimmy Kimmel,” the comedian joked. But it’s clear the subject is no longer a laughing matter for him – and, by proxy – many of his viewers.