The panel discussion “Healthcare: The Doctor Will See You Now” at the Valley Industry & Commerce Association’s business forecast conference on Oct. 25 took a look at the current coverage system and how it might change moving forward. Michael Tou, executive director of government and public affairs for Providence St. Joseph Health, moderated the panel. Panelists included Teresa Stark, senior director of state government relations at Kaiser Permanente; Dr. Clyde Wesp, senior vice president and chief medical officer at Valley Presbyterian Hospital, as well as a practicing pediatrician; and Bruce Benton, president of the California Association of Health Underwriters. The panel weighed the pros and cons of universal health care coverage, which is essentially the basis for our existing Affordable Care Act, the specialists said, and single-payer coverage, touted by some Democratic presidential candidates such as Sen. Bernie Sanders as “Medicare for All.” With the expansion of Medicaid, or MediCal in the state, coverage is up 600 percent, Benton explained. “Universal access can take on a lot of different forms; the Affordable Care Act is one of them. The Affordable Care Act was a step in the right direction, in expanding coverage to those that couldn’t afford it.” explained Benton. “The other is Medicare for All – that’s a dangerous thing. It’s not Medicare for All – that’s a stage name, a screen name. What they really mean is a single-payer system.” State legislation has already introduced single-payer in the form of SB 562, or the Healthy California Act proposed in 2017, which was expected to cost a whopping $400 billion, according to Stark. Under a single-payer system, patients could theoretically go to any doctor they wanted, any hospital, and there would be no co-pays, premiums or deductibles. There would be no gatekeeping, with individuals able to see as many specialists as they wanted. “Kaiser Permanente supports universal coverage and we believe building on the Affordable Care Act is the best way to achieve that goal,” added Stark. Benton argued that people need a private-public partnership. During the Q&A section, panelists briefly touched on public option health care versus single-payer, as a sort of halfway point between the ACA and Medicare for All.