"Parents of children with cancer, diabetes, and heart problems are about to get letters saying their coverage could be cut off ... Merry Christmas, right?"
Jimmy Kimmel took his 7-month-old son on the air Monday night to make a tearful plea to Congress to save the Children's Health Insurance Program, a healthcare program that covers 9 million children in the US.
Kimmel appeared alongside his son Billy after a weeklong break from his show, "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" Billy was born with tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia, a rare defect that required open-heart surgery just hours after his birth.
Billy has undergone a series of surgeries in his short life, but Kimmel on Monday night said he had just one more to go.
CHIP, first introduced during the Clinton administration, recently had its funding lapse with Congress focusing on overhauling the tax code. An analysis by the Urban Institute found that 1.2 million children, many of them in low-income families, could lose their healthcare.
Speaking with his son in his arms, Kimmel immediately began to tear up while seeking to compel Congress to renew funding for CHIP and his viewers to demand action from their representatives.
"CHIP has become a bargaining chip," Kimmel said. "It's on the back burner while they work out their new tax plans, which means parents of children with cancer, diabetes, and heart problems are about to get letters saying their coverage could be cut off next month. Merry Christmas, right?"
He added: "Imagine getting that letter, literally not knowing how you will afford to save your child's life. This is not a hypothetical. About 2 million CHIP kids have serious chronic conditions."
Kimmel pointed out that CHIP usually received bipartisan support in the Senate and the House but said "this year they let the money for it expire while they work on getting tax cuts for their millionaire and billionaire donors."