The heart of the ACA

Jimmy Kimmel’s emotional story about his infant son gets to the core of the health care law’s intent

Jimmy Kimmel’s recent emotionally charged monologue on his late-night show amplifies the calls for the GOP to halt efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the landmark law that has allowed more than 20 million previously uninsured Americans to obtain such vital protections.

In case you missed it, Kimmel spoke about his infant son, who was born last week with life-threatening heart defects, one of which required emergency surgery. In the 13-minute segment, the comedian repeatedly choked up as he recalled a nurse noticing something was wrong with the baby, at first detecting a heart murmur, and then the escalation of doctors attending to the hours-old Billy. The defects had not been detected in utero.

Kimmel informed his audience ahead of time that the story had a happy ending: A renowned pediatric heart surgeon fixed the more serious of the defects. Another surgery will come later.

After sharing the frightening details of the ordeal, Kimmel launched into a poignant speech about the state of health care in the United States, taking aim at President Trump’s recent proposal to cut $6 billion in funding to the National Institutes of Health. He applauded Congress for subsequently canning that plan and went on to champion the Affordable Care Act, noting that the law ensures people like his son, those with pre-existing conditions, have access to health insurance. “If your baby is going to die and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make,” Kimmel said.

Republicans recently revived plans for an overhaul of the federal health care law after defeat on that front in March. The GOP’s new plan is similarly unpopular with a majority of Americans, in part due to it stripping protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

Kimmel got to the heart of the matter in relating his personal story to the importance of the existing law. We hope the White House and the GOP get the message.