Call us before your next health care rant, GOP pols tell Jimmy Kimmel

Jimmy Kimmel should have picked up the telephone, not the microphone, if he was unhappy with Republicans' latest effort to replace Obamacare, two of the senators behind the proposal said Wednesday.

One day after Kimmel ripped into Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., as a liar, Cassidy, backed by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., defended their legislation, and said the late-night comedian would have been better off if he had learned about the bill before blasting it on national television.

"I wished he would've called Senator Cassidy to ask him if what I'm reading is true," Graham said Wednesday. "Because you heard some liberal talking points (from Kimmel) that are absolute garbage. He bought it hook, line and sinker."

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Jimmy Kimmel with his newborn son and family
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Jimmy Kimmel with his newborn son and family
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Jimmy Kimmel, Molly McNearney, Jane Kimmel and William Kimmel attend the 8th Annual L.A. Loves Alex's Lemonade at UCLA Royce Quad on September 9, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for L.A. Love's Alex's Lemonade)
Billy is helping me write tonight's monologue. I'll give our thoughts on the #GrahamCassidy health "care" bill. #BillCassidy @LindseyGrahamSC
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Jimmy Kimmel, Molly McNearney and Jane Kimmel attend the 8th Annual L.A. Loves Alex's Lemonade at UCLA Royce Quad on September 9, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for L.A. Love's Alex's Lemonade)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Jane Kimmel, Jimmy Kimmel, Billy Harris and guests attend the 8th Annual L.A. Loves Alex's Lemonade at UCLA Royce Quad on September 9, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for L.A. Love's Alex's Lemonade)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: TV personality Jimmy Kimmel (L) and writer Molly McNearney walk the red carpet during the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 16: Talk Show Host Jimmy Kimmel and Molly McNearney are seen on August 16, 2017 in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Hollywood To You/Star Max/GC Images)
Jane's first movie in a theater - The Boss Baby - made it all the way and, while the credits rolled, she shouted "let's watch it again!" Two little thumbs up
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 26: TV Personality Jimmy Kimmel (L) and wife Molly McNearney attend the 2017 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 26, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by C Flanigan/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 26: TV personality Jimmy Kimmel and Molly McNearney arrive at the 2017 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 26, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
WESTWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 07: TV personality Jimmy Kimmel and screenwriter Molly McNearney arrive at the Los Angeles Premiere of 'Office Christmas Party' at Regency Village Theatre on December 7, 2016 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Tv host Jimmy Kimmel, wife Molly McNearney, and daughter Jane Kimmel attend the 7th annual L.A. Loves Alex's Lemonade at UCLA on September 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Alex's Lemonade)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Jimmy Kimmel attends the 8th Annual L.A. Loves Alex's Lemonade at UCLA Royce Quad on September 9, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Earl Gibson III/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Jimmy Kimmel attends the 8th Annual L.A. Loves Alex's Lemonade at UCLA Royce Quad on September 9, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for L.A. Love's Alex's Lemonade)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Late Night TV Host Jimmy Kimmel arrives for the 8th Annual L.A. Loves Alex's Lemonade at UCLA Royce Quad on September 9, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Greg Doherty/Getty Images)
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"He didn't give (Cassidy) the courtesy of hearing his side of the story. He went on national TV and called this man — who has worked for the underprivileged and health care all of his life — a liar," Graham added, referring to Cassidy, who practiced medicine before he entered politics. "And I think that's inappropriate."

"I don't like the idea of calling this good man a liar without ever talking to him first. That really says more about Mr. Kimmel then it does Dr. Cassidy," Graham said.

Related: Senator ‘Lied’ Over Health Care Bill, Jimmy Kimmel Says

Cassidy, who Kimmel called out during his monologue Tuesday night as having “lied right to my face,” added Wednesday that his proposal "absolutely" passed the "Jimmy Kimmel test" — a term coined by Cassidy when he was on the show in May about whether the law would make sure no child is denied health care because a family could not afford it.

"It was personal attack and I can't help that," Cassidy said of Kimmel.

Earlier this year, Kimmel talked about seeing his son go through open heart surgery, using his own experience to press the importance of lower- and middle-class families' having coverage for pre-existing conditions.

"I don't know what happened to Bill Cassidy," Kimmel said in his monologue Tuesday. "But when he was on this publicity tour, he listed his demands for a health care bill very clearly. These were his words. He said he wants coverage for all, no discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, lower premiums for middle-class families and no lifetime caps. Guess what? The new bill does none of those things."

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Protests against the Republican health care bill
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Protests against the Republican health care bill
THE PARK IMPERIAL AT 230 WEST 56TH ST , NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2017/07/10: New Yorkers and healthcare advocacy groups organized a protest on July 10, 2017; outside Rep. John Faso's fundraiser as donors arrive at the Park Imperial at 230 West 56th St. in Midtown Manhattan. Faso voted for the House Trumpcare bill in May, he also coauthored the notorious Collins-Faso amendment to both the House and Senate bills that would shift New York Medicaid funding from counties budgets to the state budget. (Photo by Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A healthcare activist protests to stop the Republican health care bill at Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 17, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Healthcare activists protest to stop the Republican health care bill at Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 17, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Healthcare activists get a police warning during a protest to stop the Republican health care bill at Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 17, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Healthcare activists protest to stop the Republican health care bill at Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 17, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 10: A demonstrater from Arizona chants, 'Kill the bill or lose your job' while sitting on the floor outside the offices of Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) during a protest against health care reform legislation in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill July 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. More than 100 people from across the country were arrested during the protest that was organized by Housing Works and Center for Popular Democracy. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
NEW YORK COUNTY REPUBLICAN OFFICE, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2017/07/05: The Socialist Feminists of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) organized a protest outside of the New York County Republican Office in New York City on July 5, 2017; to tell Republicans that is it despicable and undemocratic that they are trying to ram Trumpcare through the Senate without debate or public hearings. (Photo by Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 10: Health care protesters from Arkansas chant outside of the office of Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., in the Hart Senate Office Building on Monday, July 10, 2017. About a dozen people loudly voiced opposition to the GOP health care bill. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
THE PARK IMPERIAL AT 230 WEST 56TH ST , NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2017/07/10: New Yorkers and healthcare advocacy groups organized a protest on July 10, 2017; outside Rep. John Faso's fundraiser as donors arrive at the Park Imperial at 230 West 56th St. in Midtown Manhattan. Faso voted for the House Trumpcare bill in May, he also coauthored the notorious Collins-Faso amendment to both the House and Senate bills that would shift New York Medicaid funding from counties budgets to the state budget. (Photo by Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 5: A small group of activists rally against the GOP health care plan outside of the Metropolitan Republican Club, July 5, 2017 in New York City. Republicans in the Senate will resume work on the bill next week when Congress returns to Washington after a holiday recess. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
A small group of activists rally against the GOP health care plan outside of the Metropolitan Republican Club, July 5, 2017 in New York City. Republicans in the Senate will resume work on the bill next week when Congress returns to Washington after a holiday recess. (Photo by Zach D Roberts/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Healthcare activists protest to stop the Republican health care bill at Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 10, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Healthcare activists are detained after a protest to stop the Republican health care bill at Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 17, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
A staff members asks the media to leave the room as Healthcare activists protest in the office of Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) to stop the Republican health care bill at Russell Senate Office building on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 10, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. Capitol police arrest demonstrators in wheelchairs protesting against the AHCA health care bill put forward by President Trump and Congressional Republicans as several dozen protestors are taken into custody after refusing to leave the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
Demonstrators hold signs during a protest against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act outside the Capitol Building in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Healthcare activists are detained after a protest to stop the Republican health care bill at Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 17, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
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The Cassidy-Graham bill would do away with Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, subsidies for private insurance, eliminate the requirement that Americans have insurance under the Affordable Care Act, and payments to insurers to reduce out-of-pocket costs. In their place, it would offer states a new block grant they could use to spend on health care mostly as they saw fit. But the block grant would include less total federal spending, meaning states would struggle to cover the same number of people.

On Wednesday, Cassidy and Graham contended that Kimmel had been wrong and argued that their plan would offer protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

"All I can say is that if you're in Texas or if you're in Maine, Virginia and Missouri, there will be resources in your state that you've not had, to provide you coverage, and we have protections for pre-existing conditions," Cassidy said.

Graham, for his part, called the idea that his proposal might allow for states not to cover people with pre-existing conditions "complete garbage."

Adam Edelman reported from New York, and Kasie Hunt from Washington.

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