Jimmy Kimmel and his son Billy. Picture: Jimmy Kimmel/Facebook Live

Jimmy Kimmel was absent from his ABC late-night show last week while his 8-month-old son, Billy, recovered from his second heart surgery. 

Ever since Billy was born with a heart defect and required immediate surgery, Kimmel has become an outspoken advocate for universal health care, occasionally using his monologue to plead with (or deliver scathing criticisms of) members of Congress. "No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child's life," he said tearfully in May.

On Monday, Kimmel returned to the stage with his son in his arms. Billy, wearing a tiny sweater vest, stayed remarkably calm on camera as Kimmel choked up once more while talking about his son.

"I was out last week because this guy had heart surgery. But look, he's fine, everybody," Kimmel said, his voice quivering as the audience cheered. Kimmel thanked his celebrity guest hosts, such as Chris Pratt and Melissa McCarthy, for filling in while he was gone. He had trouble getting the words out.

"Daddy cries on TV, but Billy doesn't," Kimmel joked. "It's unbelievable."

Then Kimmel segued into an emotional monologue about CHIP, the Children's Health Insurance Program, which expired in October.
Kimmel urged his viewers to call their representatives and "tell them to take a break from tax funds for a minute and fully fund CHIP immediately." 

After a reminder to everyone to sign up for Obamacare ("In spite of President Trump's effort to sweep it under his rug, Obamacare is not dead, it's very much alive"), Kimmel turned the attention back to Billy.

"Billy is doing great, by the way. He has one more surgery," Kimmel said. "And this is amazing: He had an operation a week ago. They say he's probably on track to win at least a bronze medal in the Olympics in 2036."

Although Kimmel will likely get criticism for bringing his son on the air, the late-night host had a response ready in September - when he eviscerated the Cassidy-Graham health-care bill - for people who say he's "politicizing" his son's health-care problems.

"I want you to know: I am politicizing my son's health problems because I have to. My family has health insurance. We don't have to worry about this," Kimmel said at the time. 

"But other people do, so you can shove your disgusting comments where your doctor won't be giving you a prostate exam once they take your health-care benefits away."