To quote a not-particularly-great man, you go to war with the army you have, and in the fight against the destruction of the Affordable Care Act, that army is led by Jimmy Kimmel. The late night host had already become a significant voice in the health-care debate with his moving stories of his infant son undergoing open-heart surgery, which Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy responded to by coining the Jimmy Kimmel Test, promising that no Republican alternative to Obamacare would deny life-saving medical care to children born with pre-existing conditions. However, it turns out that Graham-Cassidy, the bill co-authored by the creator of the Jimmy Kimmel Test, doesn’t actually pass it, despite Cassidy’s statements to the contrary. And with that discovery, Kimmel has gone off on what is now a three-night tear about Cassidy and the Republican Party’s hypocrisy—watch nights one and two—and he seems to be drawing blood.
You can tell what Kimmel is doing is working because of the vehemence with Republican politicians and conservative media outlets have responded. The National Review scoffed at a comedian holding himself out as an authority on healthcare, even though Kimmel has been careful to present himself all along as a parent with an oversized microphone, not an expert. Telling celebrities to stay in their lane is a favorite GOP tactic, but there are a few problems with the approach this time around. For one thing, Kimmel isn’t the one who made up the Jimmy Kimmel Test. “Bill Cassidy named this test after me,” Kimmel pointed out. “Am I just supposed to be quiet about that?”
For another, while Kimmel may not be an expert, there are plenty of experts who have gone over the proposed bill in detail and concluded just what Kimmel has said: Despite its authors’, and the president’s, claim that it would allow people with pre-existing medical conditions to retain their coverage, it simply does not. (In essence, the bill would allow states to make the decision to cover pre-existing conditions, but would also allow them to decide not to, or to let the cost of that coverage skyrocket so it became effectively unattainable.) Kimmel delivered that portion of his monologue next to the logos of nearly two dozen organizations, including the American Medical Association, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Kaiser Permanente, whose actual experts have said that Graham-Cassidy would make Americans’ lives, and health, worse. “We haven’t seen this many people come out against a bill since Cosby,” Kimmel quipped.
Oh, and one more thing. The party arguing that celebrities should keep their mouths shut when it comes to politics? Is run by a game show host. Or, as Kimmel puts, it, “The guy you voted for … fired Meat Loaf on television.”