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May 12, 2017

After his hospital treated Jimmy Kimmel's son, CEO speaks out on the AHCA

Daily Briefing

    Writing in The Hill's "Pundits" blog, Paul Viviano, CEO of Children's Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), weighs in on Affordable Care Act (ACA) replacement legislation.

    Jimmy Kimmel shares son's health crisis

    Kimmel's comments

    Jimmy Kimmel on the May 1 episode of his late-night show, "Jimmy Kimmel Live!", shared that his wife last month gave birth to the couple's second child—a son, Billy, who shortly after birth was found to have congenital heart disease and required emergency surgery.

    Kimmel praised the doctors and nurses at Cedars-Sinai Hospital and CHLA for their work identifying and treating the condition, noting that while his son will require further treatment, he is currently recovering well. Kimmel also linked his son's experience to the debate over the ACA, arguing that no one should be denied health care access because of pre-existing medical conditions.

    A CEO's response

    In the "Pundits" blog, Viviano shared more details about Billy's recovery. "Billy's condition, Tetralogy of Fallot, is a rare condition, but one … the Heart Institute at [CHLA] has abundant expertise in treating," Viviano writes. "In the hands of renowned pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons and cardiology experts, and through Billy's own resilience, he is able to be home with his family today."

    Viviano also discusses Kimmel's remarks about pre-existing conditions, urging lawmakers to preserve health care access for children who could potentially be affected by proposed cuts to Medicaid funding included in the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Explaining that the Senate is now considering the proposed bill, Viviano writes, "Traditionally, the Senate has shown bipartisan support for protecting children, and we hope our lawmakers rally around Jimmy's heartfelt words so that children are not left out of the conversations on Capitol Hill."

    Viviano writes that CHLA "know[s] the impact of health care legislative changes firsthand," as the hospital, which provides health care regardless of patients' financial status, "offers 350 programs and services designed to help not just our patients but their entire families, from diagnosis through recovery." He contends that proposed Medicaid changes "would have a substantial, adverse impact on our ability to" care for patients and their families "by threatening the health care coverage of nearly 70 percent of our patient population, those covered by California's Medi-Cal program."

    After long, bitter battle, House passes AHCA—setting up a Senate showdown

    But he adds that while CHLA is invested in the discussion around the AHCA, the proposed changes will affect more than "just one hospital and one patient family."

    Viviano also expresses concerns about other aspects of the proposed legislation, calling on lawmakers to preserve funding for CHIP and NIH. He concludes, "Any reform under consideration by our nation's leaders must protect coverage for children and ensure adequate funding for the programs that keep kids healthy" (Viviano, "Pundits," The Hill, 5/9).

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