Jimmy Kimmel revisited health care and Obamacare repeal on his Monday night show, laying out the definition of something he described as “the Jimmy Kimmel test.”
"The Jimmy Kimmel test, I think, should be that no family should be denied medical care, emergency or otherwise, because they can't afford it,” he said. Kimmel’s story about his newborn son’s heart condition went viral last week, just as Republicans were preparing to pass a bill that would roll back coverage for millions of Americans.
Kimmel’s definition of his test came up in the middle of an interview with Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana who earlier this week had said any Republican legislation needs to pass a “Jimmy Kimmel test,” but didn’t define what exactly that meant.
Cassidy was hesitant to agree with the definition, arguing that such a promise is difficult to finance. Kimmel offered some suggestions of how Republicans could get around that problem. Here’s the exchange:
KIMMEL: Can that be the Jimmy Kimmel test? Is that oversimplifying it?
CASSIDY: You’re on the right track, and if that’s as close as we get that works great in government. We’ve got to be able to pay for it, and that’s the challenge. All those middle-class families right now paying $20 to $30 to $40,000 a year for their coverage, we have to make it affordable for them too and that’s what I’m hearing.
KIMMEL: I can think of a way to pay for it, is don’t give a huge tax to millionaires like me and instead leave it how it is. That would be one way. That’s my vote.
CASSIDY: Tell the American people to call their senator and endorse that concept.
KIMMEL: That sounds like a good plan.
The Jimmy Kimmel test as the late night host lays out is not one the Republican health care plan passes. Millions of Americans would lose coverage under the American Health Care Act, making doctor visits and hospital trips more expensive for them — if they can afford it at all. One reason this happens in the AHCA is that, as Kimmel mentions, the bill includes generous tax cuts that primarily benefit the wealthy. One analysis finds that the bill cuts taxes by $600 billion.
To be fair though, the Affordable Care Act doesn’t pass the Jimmy Kimmel test either. The bill has covered millions — but still leaves an estimated 27.3 million Americans without coverage. Cassidy’s point about Obamacare’s premiums straining enrollees’ budgets has merit, too. Surveys find that Obamacare enrollees are increasingly dissatisfied with their monthly premiums, which rose sharply in the marketplaces last year.
Nearly half of Obamacare enrollees also say that they still feel vulnerable to high medical bills even though they have coverage. Many of the plans have significant deductibles, as much as $6,000 in the individual policies and $13,000 in family plans.
The heath care plan that Republicans voted on doesn’t pass the Jimmy Kimmel test — but the Affordable Care Act doesn’t either. Why is this test such a hard bar to clear? As I argue in a separate piece, it’s all about America’s incredibly high medical prices. Read more about that here.