December 12, 2017

Jimmy Kimmel brings infant son onstage, urges Congress to renew CHIP

In May, Jimmy Kimmel made headlines when he tearfully recounted his newborn son's health scare and open heart surgery just days after his birth.

Nearly eight months later, Billy joined his dad onstage during an episode of "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" 

Kimmel brought his son onto the show on Monday night after taking a week off for the boy's follow-up heart surgery last week.

"Hi, I'm Jimmy, and this is Billy," Kimmel said while holding his son, who was born in April with a serious congenital heart defect. "This guy had heart surgery, but look he's fine, everybody. He may have pooped, but he's fine."

As he held his son, the ABC host emotionally touted the joint state-federal Children's Health Insurance Program, which covers about 9 million low-income children whose parents typically earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford private health coverage. He urged Congress to approve renewed funding for CHIP, which it failed to do in September for the first time since the program was created in 1997.

Kimmel said the program had received bipartisan support until now – the legislation that created it was sponsored by Sens. Ted Kennedy, a Democrat, and Orrin Hatch, a Republican – and argued that Congress is using the program as a "bargaining chip."

"It's on the back-burner while they work out their new tax plans," he said of Congress. "Parents of children with cancer and diabetes and heart problems are about to get letters saying their coverage could be cut off next month. Merry Christmas, right?"

The House passed a five-year CHIP extension in early November, but Democrats ripped the plan and last week urged the Senate to reject it and instead work on a bipartisan solution.

"This is literally a life and death program for American kids," Kimmel said, noting that about two million children enrolled in the program suffer from chronic conditions. "Why hasn't CHIP been funded already? If these were potato chips they were taking away from us, we would be marching on Washington with pitchforks and spears right now."

The comedian also encouraged his viewers to "jam the House and Senate phones tonight, tomorrow, as long as it takes."

"Tell them to take a break from tax cuts for a minute and fully fund CHIP immediately."

Kimmel became choked up throughout the monologue, at one point joking that "Daddy cries on TV, but Billy doesn't."

He also said his son was doing "great" and has one more surgery to go.

"They say he's probably on track to win at least a bronze medal in the Olympics in 2036," he cracked.

The full monologue can be found in the clip below.