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Need to Know: Can Medicare be fixed?

This episode originally aired on February 8, 2013.

This week on Need to Know, Anchor Ray Suarez hosts a panel of experts to explore how to save Medicare.

>Explore the past, present and future of Medicare

Here’s a look at the panelists for this week:

Peter Suderman

Peter Suderman is a senior editor at Reason magazine and, where he writes regularly on health care, the federal budget, tech policy, and pop culture. Paul N. Van de Water is a Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, where he specializes in Medicare, Social Security, and health coverage issues. Judith Stein is the Executive Director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy. Ms. Stein has focused on legal representation of the elderly since beginning her legal career in 1975.

Before joining Reason, Suderman worked as a writer and editor at National Review, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, FreedomWorks, Doublethink, and Culture11. His writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post,,, the Washington Examiner, The New Atlantis, The American Conservative, the Orange County Register, and numerous other publications.

There’s a debate right now going on in Washington about what we should do…. You can let panels of government experts sort of decide what kind of payments we’re going to make, what we’re going to  pay for care — and do this  in a very centralized way.  The other thing that you can do is you can devolve some of these decisions to patients and doctors and individuals a little more control over their health care decisions and their health care dollars.

— Peter Suderman

Paul N. Van de Water

Before he  joined the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Van de Water was Vice President for Health Policy at the National Academy of Social Insurance. From 2001 to 2005 Van de Water served as Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Policy at the Social Security Administration, where he managed the agency’s policy analysis, research, and statistical activities. From 1999 to 2001, he was Associate Commissioner for Research, Evaluation, and Statistics at Social Security.

Van de Water worked for over 18 years at the Congressional Budget Office. From 1994 to 1999 he was Assistant Director for Budget Analysis. In that capacity he supervised the agency’s budget projections, analyses of the President’s budget, cost estimates of legislative proposals, and estimates of the cost of federal mandates on state and local governments. As Deputy Assistant Director for Budget Analysis from 1992 to 1994, he coordinated CBO’s analysis of the Clinton Administration’s health plan and other proposals to reform the financing and delivery of health care.

It’s not simply a question of knowing what health care services cost.  More important is knowing what health care services do, what benefits they may provide.  And that’s what’s very hard to determine.  Moreover, when you go to a doctor because you have a complaint, you’re not buying a particular service. You are starting out on a course of treatment, a course of service which is unpredictable at the start, both to you and to your physician.  So in most cases, it’s really not feasible to get a price quote for solving a particular health care problem.

— Paul N. Van de Water

Judith Stein

Judith Stein founded the Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc. in 1986.  Ms. Stein has focused on legal representation of the elderly since beginning her legal career in 1975. From 1977 until 1986, Ms. Stein was the Co-Director of Legal Assistance to Medicare Patients (LAMP) where she managed the first Medicare advocacy program in the country.

She has extensive experience in developing and administering Medicare advocacy projects, representing Medicare beneficiaries, producing educational materials, teaching and consulting. She has been lead or co-counsel in numerous federal class action and individual cases challenging improper Medicare policies and denials.

We have to figure out what we’re going to do, honestly, about the fact that we’re living longer….And we actually can stay well if we allow Medicare and our health insurance programs to provide proper care for people, and try and marshal the overall health care costs without blaming the program which…has helped drive down the poverty of older people and people with disabilities.

— Judith Stein