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Sen. Bill Cassidy won't return to Jimmy Kimmel’s show after "unfair" fight over health care

Cassidy on Jimmy Kimmel

Sen. Bill Cassidy has no plans to return to "Jimmy Kimmel Live" after a lengthy public feud over healthcare legislation.

"No, he was very unfair," Cassidy said on the latest episode of "The Takeout" podcast when host Major Garrett asked whether he would ever return to Kimmel's program.

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"Why would I go back in? So that he can mischaracterize what I say and later call Chuck Schumer and get Chuck Schumer's take on what I said?"

Cassidy, who has been a medical doctor for three decades, is referring to the controversy that began in May when Kimmel delivered an emotional monologue about his newborn son's congenital heart defect and pleaded with politicians to do something about the enormous costs of healthcare.

"No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child's life," he said.

Cassidy, in return, suggested in a television news interview he wanted a healthcare solution that passed "the Jimmy Kimmel test."

"Would a child born with a congenital heart disease be able to get everything that he or she would need in that first year of life?" he told CNN's John Brennan.

Shortly thereafter Kimmel invited Cassidy on his late-night comedy show.

"Senator, you mention this test," Kimmel told Cassidy. "Since I am Jimmy Kimmel, I would like to make a suggestion as to what the Jimmy Kimmel test should be. I'll keep it simple. The Jimmy Kimmel test, I think should be, no family should be should be denied medical care, emergency or otherwise, because they can't afford it. Can that be the Jimmy Kimmel test? As simple as that? Oversimplifying it?

"Hey, man you're on the right track," Cassidy responded. "If that's the closest we can get, that works great in government. Now we've got to be able to pay for it. And that's the challenge."

Sen. Cassidy gives firsthand account of deadly train crash

But come September, after Republicans' first attempt to repeal Obamacare failed, Senator Cassidy teamed up with fellow Republican Senator Lindsey Graham to present the "Graham-Cassidy bill." To explain it in broad strokes, the proposal would take most of the federal Obamacare funding and give it to states in the form of "block grants." In theory, this would allow states to set up their own individual health insurance plans with federal money.

Kimmel was furious and saw the measure as a betrayal. He used his monologue to rail against Cassidy over the legislation, which he believed would hurt poor Americans.

"And this new bill actually does pass the Jimmy Kimmel test, but a different Jimmy Kimmel test. With this one, your child with a preexisting condition will get the care he needs — if, and only if, his father is Jimmy Kimmel. Otherwise, you might be screwed."

"Coverage for all? No," Kimmel said. "Fact, it will kick about 30 million Americans off insurance. Preexisting conditions? Nope. If the bill passes, individual states can let insurance companies charge you more if you have a preexisting condition. You'll find that little loophole later in the document after it says they can't. They can, and they will. But will it lower premiums? Well, in fact, for lots of people, the bill will result in higher premiums. And as far as no lifetime caps go, the states can decide on that, too, which means there will be lifetime caps in many states. So not only did Bill Cassidy fail the Jimmy Kimmel test, he failed the Bill Cassidy test. He failed his own test. And you don't see that happen very much."

Kimmel went on to say Cassidy "lied to [his] face" during the May appearance, when Cassidy answered "yep" to Kimmel's question about whether he believes "that every American regardless of income should be able to get regular checkups, maternity care, etc. all of those things that people who have healthcare get and need."

"So 'yep' is Washington for 'nope,' I guess," Kimmel said in September.

It was later reported that he had been in touch with the office of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. According to sources who spoke with The Daily Beast, Schumer's office "provided technical guidance and info about the bill, as well as stats from various think tanks and experts on the effects of [Graham-Cassidy]."

On "The Takeout" podcast Thursday, Cassidy argued Kimmel didn't have an authentic response to him, but instead just spewed talking points provided by the Democratic leader.

"Just took it from Chuck Schumer," Cassidy said. "Never learned that people in Texas and Florida would have billions available to give them coverage and currently they do not. And he subsequently said he doesn't care what Republicans think."

"We have a CHIP [Children's Health Insurance Program] program which he subsequently praised, asking why we wouldn't reauthorize it and we were doing the same paradigm as the CHIP program. And states would have [been] given the same benefits as under the CHIP program."

"So, Jimmy Kimmel said you're a liar," host Major Garrett offered. "You're saying he's a liar?

"No, I'm not saying he's a liar," Cassidy responded. "But I'm just saying in an adult situation, usually you listen to both sides. I am not saying he's a liar. He's passionate about this issue. I'm passionate about this issue. It would have been a common courtesy to call me to see what my perspective was. I think my resume gives me enough street cred that I care about folks, and I care about their insurance, but that was ignored and instead Schumer was listened to, and Schumer's street cred is really about a guy who's a partisan politician."

While several attempts by Republicans to repeal Obama's Affordable Care Act have failed, Republicans have been able to strip three key components of the bill: delaying the Cadillac and medical device taxes, and repealing the individual mandate. The short-term spending bill the President Trump signed into law last month provides six years of funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program.

For more of Major's conversation with Cassidy, including how his medical experience played a key role in helping the victims of a train accident Wednesday, download "The Takeout" podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcher, or Spotify. New episodes are available every Friday morning.

Also, you can watch "The Takeout" on CBSN Friday and Saturday nights at 9pm ET/PT. For a full archive of "The Takeout" episodes, visit And you can listen to "The Takeout" on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings).

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Producers: Arden Farhi, Katiana Krawchenko

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