Judith Feder

Professor of Public Policy and former Dean of Georgetown Public Policy Institute, Georgetown University; Institute Fellow, Urban Institute
Areas of Expertise:
  • Health Care Reform
  • Medicare & Medicaid

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About Judith

Feder is a political scientist, health policy researcher and consumer advocate – with a long history exploring issues in Medicare, Medicaid, and initiatives to expand health insurance coverage and public insurance for long-term care. Most of her career has been at Georgetown University, where she was dean of the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, and where she now teaches classes on policy and politics as well as classes on health and entitlements policy. Feder has also served as a staff director of a congressional commission on health and long-term care, as deputy assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services during the Clinton Administration, and as the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia’s 10th District in 2006 and 2008. She has served as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress (and serves on the board of the CAP ActionFund) and is now an Institute Fellow at the Urban Institute. Feder works regularly with executive officials, congressional staff, advocacy groups, and the press to explore and explain health insurance and cost containment issues – especially in relation to the Affordable Care Act.




Medicare: The Politics of Federal Hospital Insurance (Lexington Books, 1977).
Documents the political choices implementing Medicare’s hospital payment system at the program’s outset. Argues that the focus on achieving hospital buy-in and a smooth launch to this momentous new program produced payment policies that led to the health cost escalation that continues to plague the health care system.
"Crowd-Out and the Politics of Health Reform" The Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 32, no. 3 (2004): 461-464.
Shows how the American system of “patch-work” private and public insurance coverage came into being, and how the political choices to support employer-based coverage, and build Medicare and Medicaid around it, “crowded out” the nation’s political capacity to achieve universal coverage.
"What’s Driving up the Cost of Medicare? Per Capita Costs Will Fall but the Number of Retiring Baby Boomers Will Not," (with Nicole Cafarella), Center for American Progress, May 31, 2011.
Demonstrates that, as a result of measures taken in the Affordable Care Act, growth in Medicare costs per beneficiary has slowed to the rate of growth in the economy – an all-time low. Contrary to political rhetoric, Medicare spending grows much slower than private insurance and its spending is driven not by relative inefficiency but by the rising number of beneficiaries, as the baby boom generation ages onto the program.
"Too Big to Fail: The Politics of Health Care Reform" Journal of Health Policy, Politics and Law 36, no. 3 (2011): 413-416.
Explains the benefits of the Affordable Care Act while narrating the political history of its passage. Argues that the public never became convinced that they had more to gain than to lose from the law’s passage, and enactment of the law was made possible because skeptical Democrats in Congress came to fear they would lose a great deal if they failed to successfully defend their party’s top legislatie priority.
"Refocusing Responsibility for Dual Eligibles: Why Medicare Should Take the Lead," (with Lisa Clemans-Cope, Terri Coughlin, John Holahan, and Timothy Waidmann), Urban Institute, October 2011.
Explains that the federal government finances 80 percent of spending on dual eligibles (citizens who receive benefits from both Medicare and Medicaid) and should take responsibility for improving their care. Argues that the Administration’s emerging initiatives to, instead, shift responsibility to the states, reducing federal funds and federal oversight, will restrict rights for low income Medicare beneficiaries and limit both access and quality of care.
"The Case against Premium Support," (with Henry Aaron and Paul Van de Water), Brookings Institution, November 30, 2011.
Debunks claims that voucherizing Medicare would slow the rising rate of health care costs while making the case that Medicare works to exercise purchasing power and pool risks and that the provisions of the Affordable Care Act are the keys to achieving “efficiency, equity and affordable health care.”

In the News

Judith Feder quoted on Medicare and long-term care for patients with dementia in Tiffany Stanley, "Jackie's Goodbye" National Journal, October 4, 2014.
Judith Feder's research on dealys in implementing ObamaCare discussed in Sam Baker. Judith Feder, "White House Scrambles to Get Ready for ObamaCare Implementation," The Hill, July 9, 2013.
"The Opportunities of CLASS," Judith Feder (with Harriet Komisar and Paul Van de Water), The American Prospect, July 29, 2010.