Jimmy Kimmel makes emotional pitch for covering pre-existing conditions

In this April 11, 2017 photo, host Jimmy Kimmel appears during a taping of "Jimmy Kimmel Live," in Los Angeles. Kimmel says his newborn son is home and doing great after open-heart surgery. A tearful Kimmel turned his show's monologue Monday, May 1, into an emotional recounting of the crisis with what Kimmel called a "happy ending."

Randy Holmes / AP

Last Updated May 2, 2017 9:28 PM EDT

On Monday night Jimmy Kimmel held back tears as he told the story of his new son William's birth. Although the birth in late April went smoothly for both the mother and child, hours after delivery a nurse noted the slightly purple coloring of Kimmel's son, whom they call Billy.

Jimmy Kimmel Reveals Details of His Son’s Birth & Heart Disease by Jimmy Kimmel Live on YouTube

After running a few medical tests, doctors and nurses determined that the newborn had a severe heart defect -- Kimmel identified the syndrome as "Tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia" when he spoke about it Monday.

"The pulmonary valve was completely blocked," he told his studio and TV audiences. "And he has a hole in the wall between the left and right sides of his heart." Surgeons promptly performed a successful surgery. Kimmel's son is now in good health, but the incident led him to make a personal pitch for continued funding to the National Institute of Health (NIH) and health insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, a clause that was established as part of the Affordable Care Act.

"Before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there was a good chance you would never be able to get health insurance because you had a preexisting condition," Kimmel said.  

"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."

President Trump's budget called for a large cut in funding to the NIH. However, a bipartisan agreement in Congress reached on Sunday will instead increase funding to the institution by $2 billion, a win for Democrats.

With the looming possibility of a vote in Congress as soon as this week on the new Republican health care bill, Kimmel called on his audience to fight for continued health insurance coverage of people with pre-existing conditions.

"If your baby is going to die and it doesn't have to, it shouldn't matter how much money you make," he said with tears in his eyes. "We need to make sure that the people who are supposed to represent us, the people who are meeting about this right now in Washington, understand that very clearly," he added.

The proposed healthcare bill, which seeks to reform the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, has "a clause that guarantees" coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, Mr. Trump claimed on CBS' Face the Nation on Sunday. But the strength of the protections for those with pre-existing conditions is still being fiercely debated, and the new GOP bill has been criticized by both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. 

Former president Barack Obama tweeted at the late night host in agreement with Kimmel's emotional monologue and in defense of his legacy healthcare act.

"Don't let their partisan squabbles divide us on something every decent person wants," Kimmel said. "No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child's life. It just shouldn't happen."