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Teary-eyed Jimmy Kimmel makes plea for health funding

Commentary: The late-night host explains how his newborn son almost died from a heart condition and implores the president to defend universal healthcare.

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Weeping to be heard.

Jimmy Kimmel Live/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

President Donald Trump has been tweeting about how his version of health insurance will cover everyone, even those with pre-existing conditions.

Jimmy Kimmel thinks it's insane that a parent has to worry whether they have enough money to save their child's life.

Indeed, he wept through a 13-minute monologue on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" on Monday as he told the story of his newborn son, Billy.

Very soon after he was born on April 21, Billy turned a little purple. At first, Kimmel himself didn't notice. It took a nurse at Cedar-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles to declare that something might be wrong.

What followed was a series of doctors getting involved and surgery for Billy at the Children's Hospital in Los Angeles.

Kimmel recounted the story of his son's life being saved -- with all the emotion of a parent. He tried to find space for humor.

Referring to a long-time meme involving his (fake) feud with Matt Damon, he said: "Even that son of a bitch Matt Damon sent flowers."

After minutes of thanks, Kimmel turned to the political nuances of his experience.

"President Trump last month proposed a $6 billion cut in funding to the National Institute of Health and thank God our congressmen made a deal last night to not go along with that. They actually increased funding by $2 billion."

He continued: "More than 40 percent of those who would have been affected by those cuts are children."

"We were brought up to believe that we live in the greatest country in the world, but until a few years ago millions and millions of us had no access to health insurance at all," he said. "Before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease, like my son was, there was a good chance you'd never be able to get health insurance because you had a pre-existing condition."

At this point, he began to break down. He said this was above politics. This was something all Americans should agree on. The states are supposed to be united.

ABC released video of Kimmel's emotional monologue to YouTube, even before it aired on the west coast. Soon, it had amassed more than 100,000 viewers. By Tuesday afternoon, it was the top trending video, with more than 4 million viewers.

Also on Tuesday, former President Barack Obama offered his support on Twitter. "Well said, Jimmy. That's exactly why we fought so hard for the ACA, and why we need to protect it for kids like Billy. And congratulations!"

As the battle for universal healthcare continues, and as scientists march to protest against any cuts in their funding, it's a fight for what some might see as basic humanity.

It's harder for a society that has individualism at its core to accept the notion of anything universal.

For Kimmel, however, the argument is simple: "No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child's life."

Update, 4:09 p.m. PT: Adds tweet from former President Barack Obama.

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