September 22, 2017

Senator Bill Cassidy, under fire from Jimmy Kimmel over the “Graham-Cassidy bill” version of Trumpcare, ran to his safe space at Fox News where host Martha MacCallum did her best to rehab the bill that just about every health professional and patient advocate opposes.

Cassidy insists "I'm totally not fighting" with Kimmel

Kimmel, whose infant son was born with a serious heart condition, has been on a magnificent tear against the bill this week. He specifically accused Cassidy of lying when he previously assured Kimmel that the bill would pass the “Jimmy Kimmel test” and cover all infants, regardless of their ability to pay.

Cassidy and his GOP pals must be worried.

Tonight, Cassidy paid a friendly visit to Fox’s The Story with Martha MacCallum for some Republican Rehab. MacCallum obviously saw it as her job to assist, not challenge.

She started with a dig at Kimmel, saying he “launched a personally-tinged attack” as if that’s not Fox’s stock-in-trade.

MacCallum played a long clip from Kimmel’s monologue last night but left out the part where he called Fox host Brian Kilmeade a “phony little creep.” (You can watch it in its glorious entirety here)

“I’m totally not fighting,” Cassidy responded. “I actually wish that Jimmy would actually maybe hear my perspective and not – I apologize if I offended but I don’t intend to.”

Actually, it’s not a matter of offense. It’s a matter of lying and, more importantly, foisting a hated and hateful health insurance system on America.

To help Cassidy out, MacCallum put up a graphic called “FACT CHECKING JIMMY KIMMEL” which was little more than a way to give Cassidy more credibility. For example, in response to Kimmel’s claim that Graham Cassidy cuts $243 billion in federal funding, MacCallum merely asked, “Is that number true?”

Cassidy had a smarmy response. “You know, I don’t have the exact total but let me say, we spend less than Obamacare.”

Yeah, but do patients spend less? MacCallum didn’t ask. I think we can guess why.

As Cassidy boasted about how his bill repeals penalties on people who don’t get health insurance, the graphic read, “UNCLEAR” and “No estimate from CBO yet.” Presumably, that was Fox’s response to Kimmel’s charge about the cut in funding.

But MacCallum didn’t point out that Cassidy plans to rush the bill through Congress before getting a full CBO score. Nor did she point out that Politico reported that between Kimmel and Cassidy, the late-night host has the better grasp of health policy, health care analysts say.” And she certainly did not note the outpouring of opposition from health care professionals, insurers, hospitals and patient groups.

MacCallum tried to beef up Cassidy’s “caring professional” cred while painting Kimmel as a rude ignoramus

MACCALLUM: Now, you’re a physician, your wife is also a physician, she was head of surgery at a facility that you both were at in Louisiana. You started a clinic to try to provide more health care for lower income people. So personally, how do you feel about where you are right now in this process and having someone accuse you of creating a program where, for example, if a child has a heart condition and then they need surgeries over the course of their lives [sic], they’re just gonna be left out in the cold?

Cassidy gave another smarmy response.

CASSIDY: One, I respect that Mr. Kimmel is passionate about the issue. His child might have died on day of birth. I understand his concern. I have that concern. As much as he doesn’t want to think that, you can look at my life’s work – 25 years in a public hospital for the uninsured, working in prisons, setting up free clinics, etc. My life gives testament to that. And, by the way, because of this bill, there will be so many more people in states like Florida, Utah, Tennessee, Missouri, Maine, Virginia that have access to health insurance who do not have it now. And that child who needs heart surgery will have coverage because of this bill.

Here’s the thing: a child may have coverage but it could be unaffordable and the coverage may or may not cover the heart surgery because Cassidy’s bill gives states the flexibility to set up their own health care systems.

MacCallum cocked her head in a pose of thoughtful listening. She responded with a question designed to look like she was challenging him without actually doing so. She asked whether or not a patient could be told he or she can’t get treatment because of a lifetime cap or annual cap. “Is that gonna happen or not?” she asked, leaving it up to her biased guest to determine the outcome.

Of course, Cassidy said it’s not going to happen.

Which is just about as disingenuous as her question. Because each of them must know (and if they don’t, that’s even worse) that while the bill keeps a ban on caps, states have the flexibility to narrow what qualifies as an “essential health benefit.” In other words, Graham-Cassidy makes a show of preventing caps but, at the same time, provides a pathway for states to get around the ban.

It speaks volumes that neither of them was willing to be completely frank and open with viewers about the bill.

How to resist Graham-Cassidy

If you haven’t called your members of Congress, do so ASAP! Especially if one of these Republican senators is yours:

Dean Heller (Nevada) - (202) 224-6244

Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) - (202) 224-6665

Susan Collins (Maine) - (202) 224-2523

Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia) - (202) 224-6472

John McCain (Arizona) - (202) 224-2235

Here is how to contact your other members of Congress, even if you don’t know who they are. And here are some sample scripts via Indivisible for calling Republicans or Democrats as well as an organizing toolkit for the Day of Resistance on Monday, September 25.

Meanwhile, watch Fox's mumbo jumbo over a life and death issue above, from the September 21, 2017 The Story with Martha MacCallum.

Originally published at

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