Sean Spicer responded to Jimmy Kimmel’s heartfelt plea for widespread health care access, telling reporters at his White House briefing Wednesday that the administration “shares” the late-night host’s concerns about the issue and the health of the ABC host’s newborn son.
“We share that concern for the Kimmels’ child, as well as any child that needs care,” Spicer said. “And that’s frankly why the president fought so hard to improve the bill like he did this morning, to make sure there was that extra layer of protection for anybody with a pre-existing condition no matter their stage in life.”
Spicer seemed to use Kimmel’s monologue to push the administration’s new health care plan saying: “I think at the end of Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue he said that there is no… we need to have some of these things that aren’t Republican or Democrat, that they’re American policies and I think that’s what thew president is fighting for right now is to make sure we have a health care system that doesn’t matter where you live or your background, that it takes care of people.”
Spicer went on to say that the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is “not doing what it’s supposed to, it’s failing.”
Coverage for pre-existing conditions has been a source of confusion among both Republicans and Democrats. President Donald Trump has insisted that his bill would cover pre-existing conditions. But critics argue that the current plan would undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions by allowing states to decide whether they want to opt out or not (states would be required to create a high-risk pool to cover those individuals, though it’s unclear whether or not that would be enough).
In an emotional monologue on Monday’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” the host revealed that his son Billy, born Friday, had open heart surgery at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles after being diagnosed with a heart disease that blocked his pulmonary valve.
“He appeared to be a normal, healthy baby until about three hours after he was born,” Kimmel said, adding that a very attentive nurse at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Beverly Hills heard a murmur in his heart.
“They did some magic that I couldn’t even begin to explain,” Kimmel explained. “It was a success, and it was the longest three hours of my life.”
Kimmel’s monologue, punctuated by tears, then took a political turn as Kimmel pleaded for leaders in Washington to make health care accessible to all.
“We were brought up to believe that we live in the greatest country in the world, but until a few years ago millions and millions of us had no access to health insurance at all,” he said. “You know, before 2014 if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there was a good chance you’d never be able to get health insurance because you had a pre-existing condition.”
“Let’s stop with the nonsense,” he said. “This isn’t football. There are no teams. We are the team. It’s the United States. Don’t let their partisan squabbles divide us on something every decent person wants. We need to take care of each other.”
Kimmel closed the monologue by praising the Affordable Care Act and calling on Americans to rise above party lines to protect access to health care in America.
Former President Barack Obama shared kind words for Kimmel, tweeting: “That’s exactly why we fought so hard for the ACA, and why we need to protect it for kids like Billy. And congratulations!”