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Senator Behind 'Jimmy Kimmel Test' for Health Care Chats With Jimmy Kimmel

Bill Cassidy, the senator who insisted that any new health care law must 'pass the Jimmy Kimmel test,' got a chance to tell the man himself about it.
Image: Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee member Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill on Oct. 6, 2015 in Washington, D.C.
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, during a hearing in Washington in October.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

The Republican senator who insisted that any new health care law must "pass the Jimmy Kimmel test" told the man himself on Monday night that "we will get there — if the American people call their senators."

"We've got to fulfill President Trump's [campaign promise] with coverage that passes the Jimmy Kimmel test," Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana — who's a physician — told Kimmel on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live."

"If we do that, we get a American plan, not a Republican plan or a Democratic plan," he said, appearing by satellite from Washington.

Cassidy first coined the phrase in an interview last week on CNN.

"Would the child born with a congenital heart disease be able to get everything she or he would need in that first year of life ... even if they go over a certain amount?" he said. "I want it to pass the Jimmy Kimmel test."

Kimmel delivered a teary 13-minute monologue last week about the birth of his son, defending former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act and its coverage of catastrophic health conditions. Without coverage, Kimmel said, his newborn son might have died after the infant was diagnosed with a hole in his heart and required immediate surgery.

He said Monday night that his son, Billy, "is doing very well."

Kimmel is reported to make at least $13 million a year, but he said last week: "If your baby is going to die and it doesn't have to, it shouldn't matter how much money you make. I think that's something that, whether you're a Republican or a Democrat or something else, we all agree on that, right?"

In an interview last week on MSNBC's "For the Record," Cassidy expanded on what he meant:

"Jimmy talked about his son being rushed over to have surgery. Now, I take that as a metaphor," he told host Greta van Susteren. "Is your policy adequate?

"Of course, you can cut premiums if you do what sometimes happened under Obamacare — people got a so-called skinny policy," he said.

"We need to have something that is cheaper than an Obamacare policy but still gives adequate coverage so that if somebody has a crisis, they have the coverage," he said.

Cassidy founded a free clinic in the Baton Rouge area to serve uninsured residents almost 20 years ago. As a member of the House, he championed legislation to lower heath care costs associated with obesity.

During his 2014 Senate campaign, Cassidy called for repeal of the Affordable Care Act but stressed at the time that any replacement should "include catastrophic coverage in case the individual has a major unexpected illness."

"The individual would be eligible for the plan regardless of their preexisting condition," he said in campaign literature.