In recent months, late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel has taken to scaremongering his audience with well-worn Democratic Party talking points regarding health-care insurance policy. Between yuks, Kimmel will occasionally accuse Republicans of being would-be baby killers, which is treated as an important political development because, well, Jimmy Kimmel is famous.
Last night, the comedian was back to explain to his audience why the new Graham-Cassidy “repeal” bill was bad news. There were only two things wrong with his monologue: The first was that almost everything he said was either completely untrue or highly misleading. The second was that his simplistic emotional appeal is completely disconnected from the real world.
The comedian’s interest in policy was sparked by the harrowing experience of having a newborn son who suffered from a rare health condition. Thankfully, his boy is okay. “If your baby is going to die and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make,” said an emotional Kimmel in May. “I think that’s something that, whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or something else, we all agree on that, right?”
Yes, everyone agrees. As far as I know, there isn’t a single politician in America who has ever supported allowing babies to die because they are born with birth defects, even if the parents can’t pay. There never has been. After Kimmel’s May rant, Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy showed up on his show to explain his position.
These types of culture encounters shouldn’t be dismissed, because the fact is that most viewers are unaware of specific policies and have a notional understanding prejudiced by the establishment media’s coverage. In any event, Cassidy came up with something he called “The Jimmy Kimmel Test,” which is that no “family should be denied medical care, emergency or otherwise, because they can’t afford it.”
Kimmel claims that the new bill doesn’t meet this threshold. “This guy, Bill Cassidy, just lied right to my face,” Kimmel said, before going on an extended political rant on Tuesday night. “By the way, before you post a nasty Facebook message saying I’m politicizing my son’s health problems, I want you to know: I am politicizing my son’s health problems,” he went on. Okay.
“Coverage for all? No,” explained Kimmel, “In fact, it will kick about 30 million Americans off insurance.”
Not a single person would be kicked off his or her insurance. The last time we went through this, the Congressional Budget Office found that 14 million of the 24 million Americans off health insurance due to an Obamacare repeal would choose not to buy it in 2018 in the absence of a penalty. Around six million or more of those 24 million are people the CBO just assumes would have left Obamacare markets even if the law was not repealed. Now, if you don’t believe Americans should be afforded this choice, just say so. No one is being kicked off.
Moreover, if Kimmel supports the individual mandate, Graham-Cassidy allows California to institute it — as I am sure it would.
“Pre-existing conditions? No.” Kimmel says, “Individual states can let insurance companies charge more if you have a preexisting condition.”
States would be allowed to apply for waivers to change what qualifies as an essential health benefit as long as they still preserve “adequate and affordable health insurance coverage” for people with preexisting conditions. You may prefer price-fixing to allowing states flexibility to mete out their own block grants and pricing, but Graham-Cassidy does not break “The Jimmy Kimmel Test.” If anything, it more fairly divvies up federal dollars to the states.
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) September 20, 2017
Anyway, so went a monologue that could have been written by any liberal activist. Which is to say it is zero-sum emotionalism. Anyone can play that game. Fact is that Kimmel is a fan of the status quo, and he wants you to call Cassidy to complain about it. It’s a shame that Kimmel didn’t provide a number to call for the tens of millions of Americans who have seen their premiums and out-of-pocket costs skyrocket under Obamacare’s strictures. Is there no telephone number for those who are sick of being in exchanges that coerce them to buy plans they don’t need sold to them by companies they don’t like in fabricated non-competitive markets that have dwindling choices?
Kimmel doesn’t believe Americans deserve the chance to reduce the cost of health care with market-based reforms on the state level, or in giving states any flexibility in catering their plans to their citizens. Kimmel believes California and New York should spend away and smaller states should suffer. Kimmel doesn’t believe that individuals and families should be allowed to contribute to health saving accounts or use them to help pay ever-growing insurance premiums.
Perhaps one day Kimmel can tell us what health-care insurance policy he envisions that has the government cutting checks for the entire price of every medical procedure on demand. Right now, however, no such policy can exist, even if we raise taxes on millionaires, as Kimmel suggests.
A Politico poll conducted this week found that both Democratic and Republican voters say they are comfortable with the ideological positions of their parties. This debate is not going to get any more pleasant. So there are two ways to go about national reform. One is to force the whole country to live under unilateral partisan rule. The other is to decentralize and let states try to figure it out. Kimmel may be perfectly content grandstanding against this idea while millions suffer. Others may feel differently.