CEOs of Highmark and UPMC disagree on substance of phone call
Icy relations between Pittsburgh health care titans UPMC and Highmark show no sign of thawing.
How bad is it? The two sides can't even agree on the substance of a phone call between Highmark CEO William Winkenwerder and UPMC CEO Jeffrey Romoff.
Winkenwerder on Thursday said he and Romoff spoke by phone in December and agreed to “get together” to talk about their stalemate over a new contract giving Highmark members access to UPMC hospitals once an agreement ends Dec. 31, 2014.
A meeting with Romoff could take place in the “coming weeks to months,” he said, although no date had been set.
But UPMC spokesman Paul Wood called Winkenwerder's characterization of the call “complete and utter fabrication.” He described the December call as simply one CEO wishing another happy holidays, and nothing more. The two CEOs spoke after Romoff returned a call from Winkenwerder.
UPMC, the largest hospital network in Western Pennsylvania, has no interest in talks on a new contract with Highmark, Wood said. Highmark, the state's largest health insurer, wants the UPMC relationship to be extended. Once the reimbursement contract expires, Highmark's more than 2 million members in Western Pennsylvania won't have in-network access to most of UPMC's 19 hospitals.
The organizations have been at odds since June 2011, when Highmark announced plans to buy West Penn Allegheny Health System and convert itself into an integrated hospital and health insurance system. The battle has included a lawsuit in which Highmark accused UPMC of false advertising and claims that UPMC unfairly denied service to Highmark members who subscribed to a limited network health plan called Community Blue.
The state Insurance Department is reviewing Highmark's $1.1 billion acquisition of financially troubled West Penn Allegheny, which owns five hospitals. Winkenwerder, who spoke to reporters after a meeting of the Pittsburgh Technology Council at a Downtown hotel, said he's “optimistic that there will be a favorable decision” by the department. Highmark has asked for a decision by April 30.
Meanwhile, a letter from a group of state senators called on Gov. Tom Corbett to make Highmark's acquisition of West Penn Allegheny include the condition that Highmark create a transition plan for life after UPMC.
“Requiring a transition plan as part of any approval will give consumers the knowledge and predictability they need to make choices on insurance and medical care,” said the letter, which was signed by Sens. Don White, R-Indiana and chairman of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee; Kim Ward, R-Hempfield; Elder Vogel, R-Butler County, and Robert Robbins, R-Mercer.
“Upon your administration issuing approval of the WPAHS acquisition, the lack of a clear transitional plan will result in a confused public while paralyzing the health insurance marketplace,” the letter said. Neither Corbett nor the Insurance Department had seen the letter as of Thursday, spokespeople said.
Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Add Alex Nixon to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- $2-per-gallon gas expected by year’s end, but not in Western Pa.
- Small business hangs on fate of Export-Import Bank
- Muni bond funds stressed
- FirstEnergy to build coal waste processing facility in Beaver County
- Insurers: F-150’s aluminum costly to repair
- PPG puts brand 1st in strategy to reach commercial paint market
- 3 vehicles to keep an eye on for 2016
- Jaguar XJ flagship struggles to keep pace
- Chevy tweaks its truck remake
- ATI to benefit from WTO ruling against China in steel case
- Trib 30 index slips in July; 29 percent drop makes ATI biggest loser