Share This Page

UPMC wants Highmark to drop lawsuit

| Thursday, June 27, 2013, 6:24 p.m.

UPMC wants a federal judge in Pittsburgh to order Highmark to drop a lawsuit that accuses the hospital network of using its market power to stifle once-ailing West Penn Allegheny Health System.

West Penn Allegheny originally sued UPMC and Highmark in 2009 alleging they had conspired to drive it out of business. Once Highmark agreed to buy West Penn Allegheny in November 2011, the five-hospital system dropped Highmark from the suit but continued claims against UPMC.

Highmark agreed to end the lawsuit once it acquired West Penn Allegheny. That agreement was part of a deal with UPMC last year that allowed members of the state's largest health insurer to have in-network access to the hospital and its doctors until the end of 2014.

“Approximately two months have passed (since the acquisition closed), and Highmark has still not complied with its obligations,” UPMC wrote in a filing on Thursday in the court of U.S. District Court Judge Joy Flowers Conti.

“As a result of Highmark's failure to comply with the terms of the settlement agreement, UPMC asks the court to enforce the terms of the agreement.”

Highmark, which received state approval to acquire West Penn Allegheny for $1.1 billion at the end of April, responded that “both organizations agreed to dismiss certain legal actions,” but UPMC is trying to continue a countersuit it filed against Highmark and West Penn Allegheny last year.

“While Highmark Health Services stands ready to comply with the mediation agreement, UPMC refuses to abide by the agreement so that it can continue its antitrust lawsuit against Highmark and continue to harass Highmark for standing up to UPMC and for trying to preserve health care competition in the region,” according to a statement from the insurer.

Highmark and UPMC, the largest hospital network in Western Pennsylvania, have been locked in battle since June 2011 when the insurer said it was planning to buy West Penn Allegheny, UPMC's chief rival. UPMC has refused to renew the reimbursement contracts with Highmark that expire at the end of 2014 because it says the insurer has converted itself into a direct competitor in the hospital business.

Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or anixon@tribweb.com.

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.