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Jimmy Kimmel, reluctant health care evangelist, doesn’t want credit for helping save Obamacare

Also: why hosting the Oscars is “like getting into a hot tub.”

2018 Winter TCA Tour - Day 5 Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Jimmy Kimmel has been very clear about the fact that he never expected — or wanted — to become a political mouthpiece. But the Jimmy Kimmel Live host did just that last April, when he used his late-night show to share the personal story of how his newborn son required emergency heart surgery, and urged his audience to educate themselves on Republican efforts to rewrite the health care legislation that made said surgery possible. What’s more, he kept returning to the subject for months afterward, keeping the health care debate at the forefront of his topical monologues in September as Congress inched closer and closer to a possible Obamacare repeal.

Now, as Kimmel moves forward in year two of Donald Trump’s presidency, he is keeping the door open to once again come back to this somber subject — if the news necessitates it. “I feel like I happened into a situation at a very specific time in American history in which I was able to say something that hopefully at least made people pay attention, if nothing else,” Kimmel said during ABC’s press day at the Television Critics Association winter press tour, adding that even though health care is an atypical topic for him, he hopes the unusual segments inspired people “to pick up their telephones and tell their leaders what they expect and what they want.”

But Kimmel, who was both lauded and derided in the wake of taking a more serious than usual approach to politics on Jimmy Kimmel Live, still sought to downplay his overall importance in the grand scheme of things, given the fervor that greeted his more audacious commentary.

“I think there are people who give me credit for saving Obamacare, and I reject that,” he emphasized. “You see a guy you think you know, and his baby has had a serious health issue ... I don’t think it’s particularly remarkable that Americans reacted that way. ... Ultimately, whatever side we’re on, we agree on that. We have to take care of children.”

When asked whether health care might come up when he hosts this year’s Oscars ceremony in March, Kimmel seemed skeptical — but given how quickly and unpredictably the news develops these days, he didn’t outright dismiss the possibility. “It’s two months from now,” he said. “[So] it’s like getting into a hot tub: You can’t know what the temperature is until you get in there.”

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