Obama thanked Kimmel for explaining "why we need to protect" the Affordable Care act "for kids like Billy"

By Kathy Ehrich Dowd
May 02, 2017 02:25 PM
US President Barack Obama in Athens
Credit: AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis/Pool/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Just one day after Jimmy Kimmel expressed his support for the Affordable Care Act while sharing the emotional story of his son’s birth and subsequent open heart surgery, former President Barack Obama tweeted at the late-night host — and says the infant’s story is exactly why the act should be protected for all Americans.

On Monday night, Kimmel’s voice broke as he used the monologue at the top of his late-night show to let the audience know that his newborn son, Billy, recently underwent emergency open heart surgery after doctors discovered he has a congenital heart disease, called tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia. “Basically, the pulmonary valve was completely blocked and he has a hole in the wall between the left and right sides of his heart,” Kimmel said. “He’ll have to have another open-heart surgery in three to six months,” Kimmel revealed, adding that Billy will need a third “hopefully non-invasive procedure” when he’s in his early teens.

The comedian also used his platform Monday night to make a case for Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act.

“We were brought up to believe that we live in the greatest country in the world, but until a few years ago, millions and millions of us had no access to health insurance at all,” Kimmel said. “Before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease, like my son was, there’s a good chance you’d never be able to get health insurance because you had a pre-existing condition.”

RELATED VIDEO: Jimmy Kimmel Reveals His Newborn’s Son’s Open Heart Surgery

President Donald Trump and members of the Republican-led Congress attempted to repeal Obamacare earlier this year, but House Republicans abruptly pulled their bill in late March after significant criticism. Kimmel, meanwhile, made an emotional case for why he believes healthcare should be accessible to all.

“If your baby is going to die and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make,” he said. “I think that’s something that, whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or something else, we all agree on, right?”

He then implored leaders to look beyond partisan politics.

“Let’s stop with the nonsense,” he said. “This isn’t football. There are no teams. We are the team. It’s the United States. Don’t let their partisan squabbles divide us on something every decent person wants.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Obama thanked Kimmel for his support in a tweet that linked to a video of Kimmel’s monologue.

“Well said, Jimmy. That’s exactly why we fought so hard for the ACA, and why we need to protect it for kids like Billy. And congratulations!”

Afterwards, Kimmel’s wife, Molly McNearney, acknowledged the tweet and proved that even in the midst of her newborn son’s health crisis, the family’s humor remains intact.

“Someone is angling to be Billy’s godfather,” she jokingly replied to the former commander in chief.