No. Talk all you want, but learn what you're talking about so you don't continue misinforming people

Jimmy Kimmel on health care: ‘Am I supposed to just be quiet about this?’

By —— Bio and Archives--September 22, 2017

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I rather like Jimmy Kimmel when he’s just being funny. But for whatever lamentable reason, that’s no longer the job description of late night television talk hosts. Whereas Johnny Carson gabbed with celebrities and the younger version of David Letterman gave us stupid pet tricks, today’s late night hosts have decided their job is to moralize over political issues and bash Donald Trump at every opportunity.

Kimmel has been especially lauded for this because of his emotional tale of his young son with heart problems. Because Kimmel thinks (incorrectly) that children like his son couldn’t get coverage without ObamaCare, he has tabbed himself the moral conscience of health care reform - and an awful lot of other people have decided to cede him this role.

Kimmel’s ill-informed moralizing

The problem is that Kimmel doesn’t really understand health care policy very well. That led him to stand up the other night and call Sen. Bill Cassidy a liar. Cassidy had said on an earlier appearance on Kimmel’s show that health care reform he supported would not take away coverage from people with pre-existing conditions. When the details of the Graham-Cassidy bill were released, Kimmel rode his poor understanding of public policy to the conclusion that Cassidy had broken his promise, which invited a lot of backlash from people a little tired of Kimmel’s ill-informed moralizing.

That brought a rather defensive retort from Kimmel on his show last night:


Now look, you can’t blame a guy for expressing himself, and it’s not Jimmy Kimmel’s fault mainstream newspapers and other media outlets report his opinions as if they are worthwhile news items - although I don’t imagine Kimmel minds. He seems to quite enjoy his newfound influence, or he did until it started bringing him criticism. But that’s what happens when you wade into a public debate, especially when you don’t really know what you’re talking about.

And Kimmel doesn’t.

Two snippets for you, starting with this one from National Review:

One of the problems with having the national discussion led by lightly informed celebrities such as Jimmy Kimmel is that people begin to believe their own rhetoric, in this case that Republican health-insurance reformers are motivated by sheer malice or by obscure financial considerations. (Never mind that the biggest financial players in this case, the insurance companies themselves, oppose current Republican reform efforts and largely supported the ACA.) That makes discussing the actual problems at hand, and potential solutions to them, difficult or impossible. Republicans made a critical mistake in 2008 and 2009 when they rejected the enterprise of health-insurance reform per se, repeatedly insisting only that “we have the finest health-care system in the world,” oblivious to the fact that a great many Americans were unhappy about that system or anxious, with good reason, about the security and cost of their own health-care benefits. Democrats are today making the same mistake: Obamacare is now sacred writ so far as they are concerned, and the prospect of revisiting it a profanity.

But, of course, many Americans remain dissatisfied with the current state of health insurance, and Republicans are taking small, awkward steps toward addressing that. It is not the case, as Kimmel and others insist, that the Graham-Cassidy bill would throw 30 million people off their insurance plans or that it would simply cut off federal funding for insurance subsidies in 2026. Such dishonest histrionics do not advance the cause of responsible health-insurance reform. It would permit the states to seek waivers from the federal preexisting-conditions regulation and experiment with different approaches of their own. Ironically, the effectiveness of the Democrats’ charge that modifying the preexisting-conditions rule would see Americans dying in the streets illustrates why such painful changes are unlikely to be proposed or to pass: Such measures are unpopular, and state governments are held democratically accountable to their people, often in a much more immediate and rigorous way than the federal government is. Experimenting with different approaches to preexisting conditions would in fact be desirable; there is no reason to suppose that the best solution for New Jersey is also the best solution for Oklahoma, and the only thing that is entirely clear about the preexisting-conditions approach put forward in the ACA is that it is not working.


Continued below...

And now this from the Wall Street Journal:

The left spent weeks declaring this dead on arrival, but now that Republicans appear close to a majority here come the tweets. The Graham-Cassidy proposal “eliminates protections for people who are or ever have been sick. GONE. Insurers back to denying coverage for the sick,” Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy claimed this week.

In fact, a state that receives a waiver from ObamaCare’s regulations must show plans that retain access to “adequate and affordable” coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. ObamaCare’s rules are not the only way to do this, despite the claims of Jimmy Kimmel. The Affordable Care Act’s price restrictions have in practice degraded the quality of care for the ill and sent insurers shopping for healthy patients who are more profitable.

States could set up high-risk pools, for example. These pools subsidize care for those who need costly treatment without concealing the expense across healthy patients, who may drop coverage if they can’t afford it. This can lower premiums for everyone.

So Kimmel has a major problem here in understanding the bill. He simply assumes the ObamaCare mandate is the only way to help uninsured people who wait until they’re sick to seek insurance. Graham-Cassidy requires states to find a way to do this as a condition for getting their block grants, but doesn’t mandate one way to do it. Kimmel thinks that means no one will do it. That’s a complete misread of both the bill and of health care markets, but that’s what you get when you look to emotion-driven celebrities to understand matters of public policy.


A bigger problem for the public discourse is that Kimmel never really commits himself to be a serious participant. He’s perfectly happy with present this in the form of jokey light banter, which he knows will appeal to his audience more than a serious discussion of health care economics. And for sure, it will. That’s what you do on late-night comedy shows. But Kimmel wants it both ways. He wants to be the Voice Of What’s Right On Health Care, but when challenged in his actual understanding of public policy, he retreats to wisecracks about Meatloaf.

And Kimmel is disingenuous to a fault when he acknowledges he is not an expert, but claims that he just wants Republicans to listen to the American Medical Association and so forth. That is for two reasons: 1. These “experts” also have self-interested agendas, and their recommendations on public policy hardly have an unblemished record of wisdom; 2. It wasn’t the AMA that called Bill Cassidy a liar. It was Jimmy Kimmel. He thought he knew enough to make that pronouncement, so he needs to own it.

If Jimmy Kimmel wants to take up time on his late night comedy show moralizing about health care policy, and he can sustain his ratings doing so, hey, it’s his show. He can do what he wants. But no, he does not know what he’s talking about. He ought to learn, and if he’s not going to do that, then he shouldn’t be surprised when people tell others not to waste their time listening to him.

Dan Calabrese -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Dan Calabrese’s column is distributed by HermanCain.com, which can be found at HermanCain.com

A new edition of Dan’s book “Powers and Principalities” is now available in hard copy and e-book editions. Follow all of Dan’s work, including his series of Christian spiritual warfare novels, by liking his page on Facebook.

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