Jimmy Kimmel may be a funny man, but he doesn’t understand Obamacare, according to a U.S. senator who the late-night TV host slammed this week as dishonest in describing a Republican alternative to the health care law.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., one of the chief authors of legislation to partially repeal Obamacare, sought to make himself clear Thursday morning on a friendlier show.

“Jimmy doesn’t understand, not because he’s a talk show host—[but] because we’ve never spoken,” Cassidy said on “Fox and Friends” of Kimmel’s contention that Senate Republicans’ bill would abandon Americans with pre-existing medical conditions.

“He’s only heard from those on the left who are doing their best to preserve Obamacare,” Cassidy said of Kimmel and his appraisal of the bill. “He’s not heard from me, because we’ve not spoken.”

Cassidy, a physician, apparently meant they haven’t talked about the details of his bill. The legislation, drafted with three fellow Republican senators—Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Dean Heller of Nevada, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin—would repeal Obamacare’s mandates requiring individuals to obtain health insurance and larger employers to offer it.

Other conservatives came to Cassidy’s defense on the particulars of the so-called Graham-Cassidy legislation.

In his own interview with “Fox and Friends” Thursday morning, Mike Needham, chief executive officer of Heritage Action for America, the lobbying affiliate of The Heritage Foundation, said Kimmel’s estimation of the Graham-Cassidy bill was incorrect.

“What Section 106 of the bill says is that every single state has to make sure that there continues to be affordable access for people with pre-existing conditions,” Needham said, adding:

The entire thing is kind of what is wrong with the way we talk about policy in this country.  I am sure Jimmy Kimmel is a nice guy, I am sure he is very well intentioned, but he is both wrong on what this bill does, and he doesn’t understand. There’s a whole bunch of conservative ideas as to how we can take care of people with pre-existing conditions.

President Donald Trump, who had announced he would sign the Graham-Cassidy bill, tweeted Wednesday night:

Graham, co-sponsor of the bill, also came to Cassidy’s aid in the pop culture battle:

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, whose daughter received care at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for a heart condition similar to that of Kimmel’s son, said the entertainer isn’t an authority on health insurance just because his son had a major medical issue.

In a piece published Wednesday in The Daily Wire, Shapiro wrote:

It’s absurd on a logical level: having a child with a heart condition doesn’t make you an expert on health care anymore than it makes you an expert on heart surgery. I should know—as I’ve said before, and only in response to Kimmel’s invocation of his own son, my daughter received open heart surgery at a year-and-a-half old at CHLA, at the hands of the same magnificent doctor Kimmel used.

So by this logic, my opinion should be treated with precisely the same kind of moral weight Kimmel’s is. But I don’t think that the fact that my daughter had her heart fixed at CHLA is what grants me credibility to talk about health care.

Joe Walsh, a former Republican congressman from Illinois, said Kimmel’s comments show he is out of touch with mainstream America.

According to Cassidy’s website, the Graham-Cassidy bill would give states the freedom to waive Obamacare regulations, protect patients with pre-existing conditions, and provide block grants to states by “equalizing the treatment between Medicaid expansion and non-expansion states through an equitable block-grant distribution.”

A former Republican senator and presidential candidate, Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, also helped draft the Graham-Cassidy bill, which is expected to go to a Senate vote next week, Politico reported.

“This guy, Bill Cassidy, he just lied right to my face,” Kimmel said on Tuesday night’s show, referring to Cassidy’s appearance nearly four months ago, adding:

For lots of people, the bill will result in higher premiums, and as far as lifetime caps go, the states can decide on that, too—which means there will be lifetime caps in many states … Not only did Bill Cassidy fail the Jimmy Kimmel test, but he failed the Bill Cassidy test, too.

The comedian and host of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” was referring to a comment Cassidy made on the show in late May. “We’ve got to have insurance that passes the Jimmy Kimmel test,” the Louisiana Republican said then.  

>>> Commentary: What Needs to Change in the Graham-Cassidy Health Care Bill

Also on Tuesday night’s show, Kimmel said the Graham-Cassidy bill actually is contrary to the “Kimmel test,” which, he said, is: “No family should be denied medical care, emergency or otherwise, because they can’t afford it.”

Kimmel previously announced on air in May that his son, Billy, was diagnosed with a heart condition and underwent successful surgery. He said Tuesday night that under the “current plan,” meaning Obamacare, his son’s medical treatment would be covered.

“Our current plan protects Americans from these [insurance] caps and prevents insurance providers from jacking up the rates for people who have pre-existing conditions of all types, and Sen. Cassidy said his plan would do that too,” Kimmel said.  

Then, on Wednesday night’s show, Kimmel slammed Cassidy and the Senate bill again, saying:

Oh, I get it. I don’t understand because I’m a talk show host. Then help me out, which part don’t I understand? Is it the part where you cut $243 billion from federal health care assistance? Am I not understanding the part where states would be allowed to let insurance companies price you out of coverage for having pre-existing conditions?

Cassidy also replied on Twitter to criticism distributed by National Public Radio:

Ed Haislmaier, a senior research fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Health Policy Studies, told The Daily Signal in an interview Thursday that Kimmel’s comments were misinformed.

“The bill does retain prior law,” Haislmaier said of the Graham-Cassidy legislation, adding:

It doesn’t change prior law on [pre-existing conditions] and … a lot of this was dealt with before Obamacare. …

In terms of the actual Graham-Cassidy bill, they specifically say that they have to cover…they have to explicitly use the money in a way that makes sure that people with pre-existing conditions have access to health care. So it reinforces that.

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