Jimmy Kimmel is known as a funnyman in Hollywood, but none of his on-camera moments this year were as memorable as the time he gave a serious and emotional plea for health care coverage while discussing the his young son’s heart condition.
During a May 1 episode of “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” the late-night host revealed he and wife Molly McNearney had recently welcomed a son, Billy, who was born with congenital heart disease that required surgery just days after his birth. The comedian gave a 13-minute speech that soon spread online.
On Thursday, Kimmel provided The Hollywood Reporter with an update on Billy’s health, noting that his son has two more open heart surgeries in his future.
“We would like to get them over with and not have to think about it all the time, but it could definitely be worse,” Kimmel said.
He also opened up about the decision to share such personal news with the nation.
“I had a lot of time to think at the hospital, and it just so happened that our government was deciding whether or not millions of people should have health care at that time,” Kimmel said. “I think it made a big impact on American citizens.”
The story of Kimmel’s son touched a nerve with viewers, as it came during a year when the Affordable Health Care Act has been aggressively challenged by lawmakers. “Repeal and replace” measures, which could potentially strip protection for individuals with pre-existing conditions — like Billy — have come dangerously close to becoming law.
Former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton sent letters to Kimmel after his on-air speech, as well as several members of Congress.
“My goal always is to not make this a red or blue issue, because I don’t think it is,” Kimmel said. “If the opinion polls are to be believed, more than 80 percent of Americans support some kind of health insurance plan that works. It’s clear that these politicians aren’t listening to the people.”
Kimmel reiterated his gratitude for the staff at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and urged readers to “remember places like [it]” when considering causes to donate to.
In July, Kimmel shared an adorable photo of a smiling Billy, telling followers his son was “doing great.”
Now? Billy is still doing well.
“He smiles,” Kimmel told THR. “That’s pretty much it. He is very interested in ceiling fans. He likes those a lot.”
We’re pretty sure those aren’t the only fans Billy has.