Moments before the Oct. 4 presidential debate began, two experts on the subject discussed the wide-ranging implications of health care reform.

Herbert Pardes, M.D., executive vice chairman of New York Presbyterian Hospital, and Falguni Sen, Ph. D., director of Fordham’s Global Healthcare Innovation Management Center, hashed out themes in a panel discussion hosted by Graduate School of Business Administration’s Wall Street Council at the offices of Alliance Bernstein. Ted Graham, GBA ’09, moderated.

Before the panel began, GBA alumni and their guests mingled and discussed the panel’s theme “Healthcare Reform and its Impact on the U.S. Economy.” Most said that regardless of the industry, or who wins the election, healthcare reform is going to have an effect on business.

“All the industries are interrelated to healthcare,” said Serge Reda, GBA ’04. “In three months the real conversation on healthcare will just be starting and another set of these kind of panels will need to be held.”

It was a notion with which Sen agreed.

“I honestly feel whether it’s Governor Romney or President Obama, 75 percent of the act will stay as it is,” he said before sitting down at the panel. “Because its got really nothing to do with them, is has to do with a need for transformation and that process has started and it’s very difficult to stop.”

Ted Graham, GBA ’99 moderated the healthcare panel with Herbert Pardes, M.D. and Falguni Sen, Ph.D. Photos by Bruce Gilbert

The inevitability of change, regardless of its form, was a theme that was also struck by Dianne F. Lob, chairman of Bernsteins’s Private Client Investment Policy Group. In a market overview presentation, Lob said that market reform figures strongly in any dissection of the market. Healthcare spending has risen significantly in the last 50 years, she said, and while some may argue about the percentage of the GDP spent (estimates range from 12 percent to 17 percent), the important point is how much it has grown.

“Whatever the numbers are today, an aging population is going to push that spending up even further over the next few decades,” Lob said.

Sen noted that plan will have a radical effect, and will continue to have an effect, even if challenged by a Romney administration. He pointed out that even as Affordable Care Act was being debated in the Supreme Court, most in the healthcare industry were adopting key measures, the most significant of which is accountability of both care providers and patients.

“I feel quite heartened by the emphasis on the patient, because that is one thing that takes every one of the stakeholders, from the insurance companies, to the doctors, to the hospitals, out of their narrow business models,” he said, adding that patients too will be held accountable. “That in my opinion has the potential to radically changing the medical profession.”

For his part, Dr. Pardes agreed that change was necessary and inevitable, though he said he wished the government and the healthcare industry could work better together in partnership.

When asked whether good universal healthcare can coexist with capitalism, Dr. Pardes reemphasized government and private sector cooperation. He added that at New York-Presbyterian the nearly 40 percent of capital received from private sources offset the losses sustained by Medicare and Medicaid. He said that he’d rather see healthy competition that spurs the kind of research coming out of institutions like University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins, and Columbia University.

“I’m not interested in having 100 percent D-minus institutions,” he said of a healthcare landscape in which reduced competition could lower the level of innovation.