When Jimmy Kimmel’s son was born with a heart defect earlier this year, the comedian went on air to give a powerful monologue defending the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare). He pointed out that with the multiple surgeries his son would likely require, he’d be uninsurable if it were not for the provisions put forth by the ACA. The provisions made it possible for those with preexisting conditions to be covered by insurance that otherwise would not accept them, and that was huge.
Kimmel’s moving speech shed light on a political issue that for many is extremely personal, especially when it comes to families with sick kids. For kids born with cancer, heart conditions, diabetes, or many other health issues that require medication, operations, or frequent doctor’s visits, having health insurance isn’t a luxury you can simply do without — it’s a life or death situation.
Last night, Kimmel went on air again to talk healthcare, this time with his son, Billy, in tow. The late-night host was fresh off a week-long break that he took to be with his son while he recovered from a second heart surgery, and he quickly teared up as he showed off his adorable baby and talked of his recent operation.
“But look, he’s fine,” Kimmel said, before joking, “Daddy cries on T.V. , but Billy doesn’t.”
This time, Kimmel addressed Congress’s failure to fund The Children’s Health Program, otherwise known as C.H.I.P., which insures about one in eight children whose parents don’t receive insurance through their work and make too much to qualify for Medicaid. The program had received broad bipartisan support in the past, but as Kimmel pointed out, it has recently been “placed on the back-burner” and used as a “bargaining tool” in healthcare negotiations.
C.H.I.P.’s funding ran out in October, which is frightening to the millions of American families who depend on it every single day — including mine. But unfortunately, Congress hasn’t yet approved further funding and it’s still unclear when or if they even will.
“Parents of children with cancer, diabetes, and heart problems, are about to get letters saying their coverage may be cut off next month,” Kimmel told the audience. “Merry Christmas, right?”
What’s most frightening about C.H.I.P. running out is that the families affected literally won’t have any other options. And not being able to afford to pay for your child’s healthcare expenses is a fate no parent should have to face. But that may soon be a reality for millions of children across the U.S. if Congress doesn’t take measures to fund the program — and soon.
As a parent whose kids greatly rely on C.H.I.P., I feel extremely lucky that both my kids are in good health. But as we all know, that can change on a dime. Not having health insurance for my kids terrifies me even still. I can’t imagine the fear that other parents whose kids have health conditions are feeling right now, knowing their sick child may soon be uninsured.
While many of us may feel powerless to create change from within, Kimmel has urged Americans to call their representatives and take a stand on The Children’s Health Program. We have our voices and our collective action is necessary if this issue concerns us. The harsh reality is that for many kids across the U.S., there is simply no time to waste.