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The Christian woman who defended Obamacare says she actually wants a single-payer system

Appalachian liberation theology is a thing.

Jessi Bohon. CREDIT: Twitter Screenshot
Jessi Bohon. CREDIT: Twitter Screenshot

The Tennessee woman who made national headlines last week for offering a Christian defense of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual mandate says she isn’t satisfied with the current health care law. Instead, she says her faith compels her to support something far more progressive and, to her, far more Christian: a single-payer health care system.

Jessika Bohon made waves on Friday when thousands of people shared a video of her asking Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) a question about the ACA, also called Obamacare. In the video, Bohon praised the law’s provision requiring people to purchase health insurance or face a fine—also called the “individual mandate”—noting that adding more healthy people to the insurance pool brings down costs for sick people.

Bohon, who works as a French teacher in Tennessee, rooted her reasoning in the Christian faith.

“The ACA mandate requires everyone to have insurance because the healthy people pull up the sick people, right?” she said. “As a Christian, my whole philosophy in life is to pull up the unfortunate.”

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But in a new op-ed published on Wednesday in the Washington Post, Bohon explained that while she stands by the spirit of her earlier statements, she regrets not taking the moment to advocate for another health care system: single-payer.

“In my view, Christians shouldn’t be satisfied with health-care policy that leaves anyone out, especially those who need care most but can afford it least. Christians should support a universal, single-payer system.”

“The truth is that I do not actually believe that the ACA is the best way to insure people,” she writes. “In my view, Christians shouldn’t be satisfied with health-care policy that leaves anyone out, especially those who need care most but can afford it least. Christians should support a universal, single-payer system.”

Bohon, who supported Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primary and Hillary Clinton during the general election, goes on to explain the benefits of a single-payer health care system where the federal government offers insurance to all citizens without charging premiums, deductibles, or co-pays. Countries such as the United Kingdom, Japan, Norway, and Canada have used such systems for decades, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has advocated for a single-payer in the United States both in the Senate and during his recent vie for the presidency.

Bohon argues that her Christian faith requires her to support such a system because it includes everyone, and draws on her experience growing up as part of a poor family in rural Appalachia. She recounts having to help her stroke-afflicted grandfather walk to and from the bathroom, “because he and my grandmother couldn’t afford home health care.” She also chides Christians whose “politics informed their faith, not the other way around — conservatives who expect poor churches and charities to look after their poor congregations while wealthy people live in luxury.”

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By contrast, her own religious framework essentially amounts to an Appalachian version of Liberation Theology—the school of Christian thought purporting that God is on the side of the oppressed.

“My mom cared about politics, especially issues affecting the working class: She used to tell us that Jesus didn’t just love the poor — he loved them more.”

“My mom cared about politics, especially issues affecting the working class: She used to tell us that Jesus didn’t just love the poor — he loved them more,” she writes.

Bohon admits that switching to a single-payer system won’t be easy, but cites the ESV translation of Luke 12:48, which states “everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” In the meantime, she says, she isn’t banking on help from conservative Christian Republicans, whose effort to roll back the ACA she described as an “injustice.”

Instead, she says, the change she seeks will come from the ground up—from the poor, sick, religious, and other Americans most impacted by these policy changes.

“I realized that if people of faith want a moral government, we can’t rely on people who call themselves Christians to build one for us,” she writes. “We’ll have to do it ourselves.”