LOS ANGELES — Following House approval of a much-debated health-care bill, the president of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles — which received national attention when talk show host Jimmy Kimmel lauded the hospital’s care of his newborn son — reiterated the importance of ensuring children have access to medical care.
Kimmel “has had a tremendous impact in raising awareness about a very critical issue at a critical time in our country,” Children’s Hospital President and CEO Paul Viviano said. “We agree with Mr. Kimmel that every child should have access to the pediatric medical care they need.”
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles saw a spike in calls from potential donors following Kimmel’s emotional monologue May 1, during which he fought back tears while describing the birth of his son, Billy, and the emergency surgery the boy underwent three days later to repair a heart defect.
At the end of his monologue on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” Kimmel made an emotional plea to Congress, saying that eliminating insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions will endanger lives.
“Before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease, like my son was, there was a good chance you’d never be able to get health insurance because you had a pre-existing condition,” Kimmel said. “And if your parents didn’t have medical insurance, you might not even live long [enough] to even get denied because of a pre-existing condition.”
Viviano thanked Kimmel for his remarks on the issue of children’s health.
“His powerful statements highlight the importance of considering the impact on children of any proposed health legislation, including changes that could devastate access to care for children with pre-existing conditions, like his newborn son, and the importance of continued medical and research funding,” Viviano said.
“The need for sustained National Institutes of Health funding is vital to pediatric care because lifesaving techniques and therapies like those that helped Billy Kimmel are developed through federally funded research studies,” he said. “A strong [National Institutes of Health] is needed to continue the vital work of creating new pediatric treatments for heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other medical conditions in children.”
Republican leaders have insisted that the legislation narrowly passed in the House of Representatives May 4 will provide options for people with pre-existing conditions. White House officials said that under the bill, nobody can be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, with $120 billion in funding earmarked for states to cover the costs for people with such conditions.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said earlier last week the American Health Care Act is a bill “that gives [Americans] the care that they need, that allows them to go see a doctor, that covers pre-existing conditions and does so in a way that’s not going to be out of range and unaffordable for most Americans.”
Democrats blasted such claims, insisting that millions of people with pre-existing conditions will either lose coverage or be forced to pay unaffordable premiums.
“Trumpcare will embezzle health care from 24 million hard-working Americans, with no replacement plan to expand coverage to any currently uninsured individuals,” said Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Commerce. “This bill will destroy protections for the 133 million Americans who have pre-existing conditions, making it all but impossible for these Americans fighting illnesses to afford the health coverage they desperately need.”
In a celebratory news conference at the White House, President Donald Trump did not specifically address the issue of pre-existing conditions, but said that under the pending legislation, which now moves to the U.S. Senate, “premiums will be coming down. Yes, deductibles will be coming down.”
“Right now, the insurance companies are fleeing,” he said. “It’s been a catastrophe. And this is a great plan. I actually think it will get even better.”