Buddy Roemer is a former governor and congressman from Louisiana and a candidate fro the Republican nomination for the presidency. He’s also an avid user of Twitter. After I asked him about an intriguing tweet about health-care policy — a phrase, I assure you, I never expected to have to write — he sensibly replied, “There’s definitely more to it (impossible to cover all in 140 characters).” So on Friday, we spoke about his ideas for health-care reform, economic policy and campaign-finance reform. A transcript follows, with light edits for length and clarity.
Ezra Klein: Let’s start where our Twitter conversation left off. You propose barring insurers from discriminating based on preexisting conditions but you don’t support an individual mandate or any other policy to pull healthy people into the market. So how do you prevent an adverse selection problem where unhealthy people enter your system, healthy ones leave, and premiums skyrocket?
Buddy Roemer: Here’s my fundamental first step: Insurance companies ought to be covered under the Sherman Antitrust Act. I know this is heresy. I know they give large sums of money. First phone call I got when I was elected to Congress was from an insurance PAC. I know they’re the largest givers. But it’s ridiculous to have 50 monopolies in this country. Monopolies raise prices and lower choices. And the first thing we need in health reform is to break the stranglehold that the insurance monopolies have in this country.