Avik Roy: How George W. Bush Would Have Replaced Obamacare

In January of 2007, George W. Bush was entering the final stretch of his two-term presidency. Bush, however, chose not to ride off simply into the sunset. Instead, he put forth a comprehensive plan to reform the private health insurance market. It’s long-forgotten now, because Democrats had just regained control of Congress, and these newly-empowered legislators pronounced the Bush plan “dead on arrival.” In many ways, though, the Bush proposal was impressive and credible. It would have expanded coverage while reducing the deficit. Should it serve as the starting point for replacing Obamacare?

Today, when it comes to health care and entitlements, Bush is best-known for his 2003 Medicare prescription-drug benefit. That plan is widely unloved; conservatives complain that it permanently increased the deficit, while liberals dislike its market-oriented features. But had Bush’s 2007 plan made it into law, it would have unleashed a market-driven revolution in private health insurance, one that would have made insurance cheaper for the people who need it most. Obamacare, as we know it today, would not have been drafted.

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