People with pre-existing conditions had an emotional response to Jimmy Kimmel's monologue.

Becca Atherton first saw the operating room when she was a baby. Over the next 24 years, it became a familiar sight.

Atherton, who suffers from Tetralogy of Fallot, a congenital heart disease, and pulmonary atresia, a respiratory disorder, estimates that she takes 50 pills a day and has endured four open-heart surgeries in her young life. Together, she and her mom watched Jimmy Kimmel's monologue detailing his newborn son's health emergency.

"We looked at each other when he started talking about pre-existing conditions and we were both like, 'Finally!'" Atherton says.

After Kimmel's monologue went viral, hundreds and Americans whose lives have been touched by chronic childhood illnesses took to social media to thank the talk show host for giving voice to their stories — and speaking up for their rights.

The speech captured an experience familiar to millions of families from all walks of life — from the terror of finding out your child has a life-threatening illness, to the gratitude for the work of local hospitals and medical professionals who treat those illnesses, to the importance of funding the National Institutes of Health.

It was Kimmel's emotional plea to save affordable insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, however, that struck the strongest chord with his audience.

"If your baby is going to die and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make," Kimmel pleaded at the end of the emotional monologue.

The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that more than 1 in 4 Americans under 65 have conditions that would render them uninsurable under a pre-Affordable Care Act insurance model.

Kimmel's speech came as congressional Republicans are considering changes to their health care bill that could allow insurers to charge patients with pre-existing conditions higher rates. A recent amendment to the bill would allow states to wave provisions of the ACA that forbid insurance companies from factoring health history into plan pricing.

Atherton, who received the same diagnosis as Kimmel's son when she was a baby, believes Congress could do more to demonstrate they believe their plan is right for their constituents.

Becca Atherton. Photo via Becca Atherton, used with permission.

"If your new health care plan is so amazing, then prove it by giving up your government funded health care plan and join the rest of us on your new plan," Atherton says.

A Virginia performer, who goes by Jolene Sugarbaker, says they don't understand "people saying they don't want their tax money going towards people getting care, but don't mind it going towards a wall."

Sugarbaker, who had Tetralogy of Fallot surgery at 8 years old, worries that under the new plan, poorer Americans with chronic childhood illnesses won't be able to give their children the kind of care Sugarbaker received or will go bankrupt trying to pay for it.

Andrew O'Brien, a Maryland father whose 2-year-old daughter Keely nearly died from a congenital heart defect when she was an infant, said Kimmel's monologue "brought back feelings and memories," from the most difficult weeks of his family's life.

O'Brien, a Republican, believes the ACA needs "real changes," but doesn't want to see protections for patients who require intensive, ongoing care through no fault of their own scrapped.

"To go backward now and deny people the ability to obtain insurance based on a pre-existing condition would be really harmful," he says.

Andrew O'Brien (R) with son Liam, daughter Keely, and wife Jenny. Photo via Andrew O'Brien, used with permission.

He would like to see Congress craft a new bill that fixes the things that don't work with the current law, while keeping its most popular and effective provisions — like the backstops for customers with pre-existing conditions — in a way that isn't "overly partisan."

While the health care debate continues to rage in D.C., for people with such conditions and those who love them, Kimmel's contribution might wind up being invaluable.

Atherton, who will eventually need another heart surgery, hopes Kimmel's monologue will raise awareness of people like her — and what they stand to lose if their health coverage goes away.

"These are people's lives you're dealing with," Atherton says. "We have worth."

Family
Courtesy of Houseplant.

In America, one dumb mistake can hang over your head forever.

Nearly 30% of the American adult population — about 70 million people — have at least one criminal conviction that can prevent them from being treated equally when it comes to everything from job and housing opportunities to child custody.

Twenty million of these Americans have felony convictions that can destroy their chances of making a comfortable living and prevents them from voting out the lawmakers who imprisoned them.

Many of these convictions are drug-related and stem from the War on Drugs that began in the U.S. '80s. This war has unfairly targeted the minority community, especially African-Americans.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

Climate change is happening because the earth is warming at an accelerated rate, a significant portion of that acceleration is due to human activity, and not taking measures to mitigate it will have disastrous consequences for life as we know it.

In other words: Earth is heating up, it's kinda our fault, and if we don't fix it, we're screwed.

This is the consensus of the vast majority of the world's scientists who study such things for a living. Case closed. End of story.

How do we know this to be true? Because pretty much every reputable scientific organization on the planet has examined and endorsed these conclusions. Thousands of climate studies have been done, and multiple peer-reviewed studies have been done on those studies, showing that somewhere between 84 and 97 percent of active climate science experts support these conclusions. In fact, the majority of those studies put the consensus well above 90%.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature
via James Anderson

Two years ago, a tweet featuring the invoice for a fixed boiler went viral because the customer, a 91-year-old woman with leukemia, received the services for free.

"No charge for this lady under any circumstances," the invoice read. "We will be available 24 hours to help her and keep her as comfortable as possible."

The repair was done by James Anderson, 52, a father-of-five from Burnley, England. "James is an absolute star, it was overwhelming to see that it cost nothing," the woman's daughter told CNN.

Keep Reading Show less
Heroes

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
popular