Imagine what might have been. After Barack Obama’s presidential victory in 2008, Zeke Emanuel and others on the White House staff urged him to adopt John McCain’s approach to health reform. Such an approach also would have been consistent with the earlier writings of Obama economic advisor Jason Furman.

The McCain approach was to replace all existing health insurance subsidies (including subsidies for employer coverage) with a universal tax credit — much like the child tax credit. If we did that today, I believe the amount would be close to $2,500 per adult and $8,000 for a family of four. Since this is roughly what it costs to enroll people in Medicaid, those amounts would buy Medicaid-like insurance unless additional sums were added out of pocket.