Jimmy Kimmel once again brought the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to the public's attention––this time during a segment of "Barista Theatre" while hosting his late night show. CHIP, a program which covers about 9 million children whose parents usually earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private health insurance, has been jeopardized ever since Congress failed to secure funding in October.
"Funding for CHIP should have never been allowed to run out in the first place,” Kimmel said during a monologue last night. “This is a program that is supported overwhelmingly by both parties, Republicans and Democrats, and all [House Speaker] Paul Ryan and [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell had to do was put it up for a vote, it would’ve been a done deal. But they decided to use it as a bargaining tool instead.”
To explain the current status of CHIP, Kimmel acted out a sketch with an actor who played a Starbucks barista. The scenario––it couldn't be any clearer––became the equivalent of ordering a cappuccino and getting “one giant bag of horse shit" with it.
THE BARISTA: It’s kind of a two-for-one thing. If you want the cappuccino, you also have to pay for a giant bag of horse shit.
KIMMEL: But what if I just want the cappuccino?
THE BARISTA: Whoa, buddy! If you start making demands like that, I will shut down this entire coffee establishment.
“The bottom line is, if they [the Republicans in power] want to fund CHIP, which they say they do because they care about children, they could do that immediately,” Kimmel said afterward. If they took a vote on CHIP alone, there’d be no votes against it. But they want to use children’s health as leverage.”
Kimmel pointed out that President Donald Trump's tweet yesterday about CHIP's status is one of the president's “weird occasional flashes of common sense.”
CHIP should be part of a long term solution, not a 30 Day, or short term, extension!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1516282644.0
The problem? Trump “happens to be correct but it also happens to be the exact opposite of what the White House said yesterday.”
Kimmel had harsh words for Republicans who opted to lump CHIP in with their spending bill. “It’s been 100 days since it expired, it’s very scary for parents,” he said. “Funding for CHIP should never have been allowed to run out in the first place. This is a program that’s supported overwhelmingly by both parties, Republicans and Democrats.”
He noted: "All Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell had to do is put it up for a vote, it would have been a done deal. But they decided to use it as a bargaining tool instead.”
House Republicans have contended with considerable ire since their announcement that a six-year CHIP extension would be attached to the spending bill. As The Daily Beast reported:
Their bill didn’t include protections for so-called DREAMers—the undocumented minors brought to the country illegally—making it difficult for Democrats to support it. But by adding CHIP, Republican lawmakers were essentially daring those on the other side of the aisle to vote against the measure and, in turn, be blamed for not wanting to save a bipartisan health care program for poor children.
A Republican congressional aide who spoke to Daily Beast reporters on condition of anonymity says the move is part of a long game to force Democrats to "eat their words."
After Democrats slammed Republicans for not caring about sick children for months, the GOP is turning the tables on Democrats with the government funding package with CHIP provisions,” the aide said. “Democrats are faced with a choice to eat their words or support a Republican vote.”