Republican Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) were in full-on damage control mode Wednesday morning after seeing their last-ditch Obamacare replacement bill come under potentially devastating assault by a late-night comedian.
For the second time this year, Jimmy Kimmel inserted himself into the health care debate, this time going after Cassidy for coining and then failing to hold up the so-called “Jimmy Kimmel test” that was meant to prevent parents from going broke because they have a child born with a pre-existing condition.
Kimmel said Cassidy “lied right to my face” when he appeared on his show back in May. “Stop using my name,” he added. “There’s a new Jimmy Kimmel test for you. It’s called a lie detector test. You’re welcome to stop by the studio and take it anytime.”
But Cassidy appeared unbowed. Asked to respond by CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Wednesday morning’s New Day, he responded instead with condescension.
“I’m sorry he does not understand,” Cassidy said, again promising more coverage and protection for those with pre-existing conditions under his bill. But as Cuomo pointed out, under Cassidy’s bill, individual states will be given a large amount of latitude in regulating insurance company pricing and coverage requirements. So while patients with pre-existing conditions might still technically have “access” to care, they won’t actually be able to afford it.
Over on Fox & Friends, Graham was even more dismissive of Kimmel’s concerns. "I understand the emotional nature of having a sick child, and we're all grateful your child is doing well,” the senator said, getting the niceties out of the way before essentially telling Kimmel he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
“I bet you he never called Sen. Cassidy and said, ‘Would you please set this straight?’” Graham added. “I bet he looked at some liberal talking point, bought it hook, line and sinker, and went after Bill Cassidy without talking to him, and I think that’s unfair.”
There was no one on Fox willing to push back against Graham’s broad claims about his health-care plan. But despite the senators’ assurances, Kimmel was correct when he said the bill does not pass the “Jimmy Kimmel test” as laid out by Cassidy earlier this year. On the key issue of discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions, something that is outlawed under Obamacare, Graham-Cassidy falls short.
According to the Washington Post’s Amber Phillips, “It depends what state you're in and whether your state decides to remove protections for pre-existing conditions.” And while states would need get waivers in order to allow insurers to charge those people more, as Cassidy argued on CNN, The Center for Budget and Policy priorities says that “states seeking waivers would only have to explain how they intend to maintain access to coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, but they wouldn’t have to prove that their waivers would actually do so.”
Jimmy Kimmel, in short, knew exactly what he was talking about. The authors of the bill, Cassidy and Graham, didn’t.