— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) September 20, 2017
Late night host Jimmy Kimmel ripped into Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), one of the coauthors of the GOP’s latest effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, on his show Tuesday night. “This guy, Bill Cassidy, lied right to my face,” Kimmel said, encouraging his viewers to call members of Congress.
During the earlier health care debate, Cassidy received a fair bit of attention for coining what he called the Jimmy Kimmel Test, urging fellow lawmakers to protect people with preexisting conditions. Kimmel had called on Congress to do this after his son was born with congenital heart disease.
Since the summer, though, Cassidy has completely changed his mind, and is now sponsoring the GOP’s last effort to repeal Obamacare before a September 30 deadline. The bill Cassidy introduced earlier this month clearly fails his own test. It cuts billions in federal health spending and allows states to wipe out the vast majority of Obamacare’s rules protecting people with preexisting conditions (such as myself).
A clearly irate Kimmel called Cassidy out on that hypocrisy Tuesday. “[Cassidy] was on my show, and he wasn’t very honest,” Kimmel said. “It seemed like he was being honest, he got a lot of credit and attention for coming off like a rare, reasonable voice in the Republican Party when it came to health care, for coming up with something he called—and I didn’t name it this, he named it this—the Jimmy Kimmel test. Which was, in a nutshell, no family should be denied medical care, emergency or otherwise, because they can’t afford it. He agreed to that.”
Kimmel criticized Cassidy for exploiting that media coverage—and Kimmel’s own show—just to turn around and introduce legislation that went against everything he promised. “Stop using my name, because I don’t want my name on it,” Kimmel said. “There’s a new Jimmy Kimmel Test for you, it’s called the lie detector test. You’re welcome to stop by the studio and take it anytime.”
Watch Kimmel’s full monologue, which is both a father’s impassioned plea and as a surprisingly detailed policy talk (for late night television). Kimmel explains how Cassidy’s bill would allow insurance companies to once again impose lifetime caps on consumers and make health insurance unaffordable for many Americans.
Cassidy responded to Kimmel during a CNN interview Wednesday morning. “I’m sorry he does not understand,” Cassidy said. “Under Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson, more people will have coverage, and we protect those with preexisting conditions.” The second part is just flat-out false. His bill would allow states to opt-out of Obamacare’s regulations that guarantee that people with preexisting conditions are charged the same rates for insurance as healthy people.
As for Cassidy’s first point—that more people will receive coverage under his plan—that’s highly dubious as well. It’s likely that tens of millions of people would lose insurance under Graham-Cassidy, since the bill offers less money in subsidies than Obamacare, ends Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid to more low-income families, and would lower spending of traditional Medicaid by many billions by turning it into a block grant program. But it’s true we can’t say exactly how many people would likely lose insurance under the plan yet, because Cassidy and his Republican colleagues are rushing to a vote before the Congressional Budget Office has time to analyze the full impacts of the bill.
At first, it was somewhat unclear why Cassidy and his colleague Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) waited until the last minute to release their bill to the public and submit it to the CBO. But now it seems clear that Cassidy didn’t want to subject his bill to rigorous examination, and would rather try to peddle falsehoods without any scrutiny. Without a CBO report, Cassidy was able to respond to an accusation that he had lied on national television by going back on TV and lying even more shamelessly.
— New Day (@NewDay) September 20, 2017